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A New Approach to Immune Cell Analysis

Researchers at Stanford University have come up with a new approach to analyzing immune cells that identifies changes in small samples of human whole blood, and has the potential to distinguish between health and disease states. The new method, published in Nature Methods, seeks to bypass the problems that come from trying to interpret microarray analysis of blood with a mix of immune cells — current methods don't take into account the wide variation in the proportion of each cell type, even in healthy people. The Stanford team developed a computational approach, called cell specific significance analysis of microarrays, that use a mathematical approach to separate out the different cell types found in blood, determine the gene expression, and identify which changes are due to disease and which are simply variations in cell proportions.