ALCEDIAG and epigenetics
ALCEDIAG research focuses on a specific subcategory of biology called epigenetics. Whereas genetics is the study of genes and heredity, epigenetics focuses on a complementary, yet not less important aspect - how environmental factors switch genes on and off and affect gene expression.
Epigenetic processes are reversible and dynamic, as they evolve over time. Their occurrence is affected by environmental factors, in the broadest sense.
ALCEDIAG’s epigenetic biomarkers allow a dynamic approach of diagnostics, taking into account the patients’ condition, the potential progression of the disease as well as the impact of treatment.
More specifically, ALCEDIAG focuses on one epigenetic mechanism called RNA editing, which can be altered by both pathologies and pharmacology.
A-to-I RNA editing is an epigenetic physiological mechanism that consists in the substitution, in precise locations on the RNA of an adenosine (A) nucleotide by an inosine (I) nucleotide.
RNA editing is involved in numerous physiological functions and can have an impact on both proteins and regulation mechanisms. As an example, RNA editing regulates some synaptic function via an alteration of key receptors functionalities, which has a direct impact on signal transmission and synaptic functions.
RNA editing and pathologies
Several studies have highlighted the relationships between RNA editing modifications and pathologies. RNA editing involvement has in particular been referred to for psychiatric disorders (schizophrenia, depression, Bipolar disorders, and suicidal behavior). The involvement of RNA editing has also been described in inflammatory and autoimmune disorders (Erythematosus Lupus), and cancers.
For over a decade, ALCEDIAG has acquired an expertise in the study of RNA editing in psychiatry.
ALCEDIAG initially focused on RNA editing modifications in the brains of patients who committed suicide, thus discovering a biological brain signature for suicide, based on the identification of RNA editing biomarkers.
ALCEDIAG then focused on blood biomarkers signatures and has been conducting several clinical studies to assess the performance of these signatures in different settings and for different mental disorders. More than 600 patients have been tested, primarily for depression and suicidal behaviors.
The clinical studies show that ALCEDIAG biological signatures:
- Discriminate between depressed patients and healthy controls, and, among depressed patients, between those with or without suicidal tendencies;
- Vary during the follow-up periods alongside with the patients’ clinical conditions;
- Evolve in time periods as short as a few days;
- Allow the stratification of patients.
ALCEDIAG facilities are located in France and include a fully integrated platform which allows ALCEDIAG to conduct its research and assays in-house. This platform includes molecular biology, next generation sequencing as well as a full pipeline of bio-informatics and bio-statistics. These state of the art technologies enable ALCEDIAG to identify powerful algorithms to diagnose, select and improve patient management.