8th May 2017 – Human Leucocyte Antigen (HLA) System

Andy Canterbury is the business development manager for MC Diagnostics, a small company based in St Asaph, North Wales and they have developed a DNA microarray platform for medical diagnostic testing; the primary application being HLA typing. Andrew has an MSc in Immunology and started worked in the NHS as a clinical scientist, introducing DNA HLA typing into routine use. He then moved into the commercial world as a R&D scientist before progressing towards more business focused roles.

For your body to combat an infection, it requires a mechanism to distinguish what should be there ‘self’ and what is an invader ‘non-self’. This role is fulfilled by proteins on the cell surface of white blood cells, called Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA). These molecules can present a major barrier to successful transplantation but by closely matching a patient and donor HLA, the risk of organ rejection is greatly reduced. The methods for HLA typing have developed over the years and today DNA based typing is routinely performed.

HLA-microarray

This image shows their technology. The black dots are a micro array printed in the bottom of a test well. Company software interprets the unique pattern of the dots to provide the HLA result.

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