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Celiac disease is a condition in which gluten in cereal-containing food products containing rye, wheat and barley cause inflammation and damage to the small intestinal mucosa. Because of the damage, nutrients are not properly absorbed. RNA sequencing of patient tissue samples and cells makes it possible to study the immune system, and whether it’s functioning properly.

– Half of my thesis work is RNA sequencing. We are not looking for a specific gene or protein in the sequencing, but want to investigate what types of changes gluten intake causes in the RNA profile of people with dermatitis herpetiformis.

The sequencing has been done in collaboration with the University of Helsinki, and the data is stored encrypted in SD Connect and analysed with SD Desktop.

Kaunisto did not have previous experience of the high-performance computing or sensitive data services.

– I started using the Sensitive Data Services because I needed more computational power than what was available for me through the university, and I needed a secure environment for this computational power. I find the services very easy to use as the online guides are very thorough. If I have a problem I can’t solve myself the helpdesk is always very helpful.

According to Kaunisto, the research is of great benefit to clinical science.

– Celiac disease is known as an intestinal disease, but it has many other symptoms that are not related to the intestines at all. There may be neurological and skin problems too. Is there a difference in immunity between people with celiac disease and people with dermatitis herpetiformis? How can an immune response spread from the gut to the skin – and why does a rash develop?

Read more about the research.