The Lupus Diagnostic Challenge
1.5 million people suffer from lupus in the United States, 5 million worldwide. This potentially deadly autoimmune disease is difficult to detect. As reported in The Oklahoman, lupus patients may exhibit considerably different symptoms. A group of patients can be in the same room describing vastly different symptoms, yet all have lupus.
Melissa Munroe, MD, PhD, a researcher with Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF), sought to overcome this diagnostic challenge by developing a lupus-focused diagnostic tool. Munroe teamed up with Judith James, MD, PhD, chair of the Arthritis and Clinical Immunology Research Program and OMRF vice president of clinical affairs. The Oklahoman reports their collaboration developed an algorithm that apparently can predict lupus flares up to three months in advance. Thereafter, OMRF has licensed the algorithm to Progentec Diagnostics Inc. so the latter can advance a suite of commercial diagnostic tests for lupus.
OMRF & Progentec Response
Progentec has established a CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) certified laboratory on OMRF’s Oklahoma City, OK campus. Progentec Diagnostics was set up to explore and commercialize diagnostic interventions in therapeutic areas with high levels of unmet need—such as autoimmune disorders. Founded in 2015, they have raised $1.3 million in seed funding according to CrunchBase. The firm is leading the TOTAL FEEDBACK lupus study investigating the presence of certain blood proteins before and after lupus flare has occurred.
Partnering with OMRF and the Mayo Clinic, they continue to research with its Continuing Progentec™ diagnostic technology to uncover and advance predictive diagnostics in therapeutic areas with unmet needs.
About Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation
Located in Oklahoma City, OK, OMRF is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institute established in 1946. OMRF is dedicated to understanding and developing more effective treatments for human disease. The organization includes more than 500 scientific and administrative staff members. OMRF scientists hold more than 700 U.S. and international patients and have spun off 11 biotech companies.
OMFR discoveries have led to Xigris, the first FDA-approved drug for the treatment of severe sepsis, and Ceprotin, a therapy for people suffering from a rare and life-threatening blood disorder known as protein C deficiency. Research at OMRF also identified the enzyme believed responsible for Alzheimer’s disease and laid the groundwork for OncoVue, a breast cancer risk assessment test.