The Use of Plucked Hairs as a biomarker tissue - Part 2

The application of differential gene expression and biomarker discovery

Following on from our June webinar, which demonstrated how plucked hair follicles can be used as a pharmacodynamic biomarker tissue using immunohistochemistry techniques, Dr. Cath Booth further explores the use of this biomarker tissue using differential gene expression as the readout.


Date: July 24th 2024      Time: 1pm - 2pm BST

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Plucked Hair Biomarker Platform

Plucked hairs as a surrogate tissue

Epistem has pioneered the use of scalp hair as a biomarker tissue for over 10 years. The hair follicle is highly vascularised and rapidly responds to therapeutic agent exposure. An important advantage of using hair in biomarker programs is the minimally invasive nature of hair plucking, reducing patient discomfort and inconvenience and permitting multiple, independent samples to be collected over the treatment course.

Biomarker Discovery and Analysis

The hair biomarker platform can inform drug development programs on monitoring pharmacodynamic response to treatment, duration of drug effect, dose response, confirmation of mechanism of action, patient stratification and hair growth.

Proof of concept studies are assessed by incubating plucked scalp hairs from healthy normal volunteers into media +/- the agent of interest at relevant time points. Post-translational changes to the target, such as phosphorylation, can be measured by immunohistochemistry. For transcriptional changes we offer a full bioinformatics service that includes differential expression, pathway analysis and identification of gene signature biomarkers.

Clinical Biomarker Analysis

At clinical sites, patient hairs can be collected and placed into preservative solution and shipped to Epistem for similar analyses. Epistem provides sampling kits for clinical studies, that include a collection guide to ensure that the samples are collected correctly and with optimal quality. These kits are designed to be easy to use, and instructions are provided to ensure that the hair is collected in a manner that is consistent with clinical trial requirements. Epistem also offers remote training to ensure that hair is collected correctly. This training is designed to ensure that the samples are of the highest quality and meet the requirements of the study protocol.

If you missed our first webinar you can view ite here: Plucked hair webinar - Part 1


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