CIStem Molecular Corp. believes it has found a shortcut around the laborious process of sorting through all the messenger RNAs expressed by a cell in order to obtain an expression profile. Instead of looking at the gene product, the RNA, in the search for genes that are differentially expressed in healthy versus diseased cells, CIStem looks at the regulatory elements of genes to determine what sets of genes are differentially co-expressed by different cell types.

The traditional method of comparing gene expression by looking at messenger RNA is fraught with difficulty, said Mary Harper, CIStem's chief scientific officer. "There are thousands of RNA transcripts to differentiate," making it hard to determine what RNAs are important, she said.