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Augurex Reports Positive Data for RA Blood Test and Drug Target at the Annual European Congress of Rheumatology (EULAR)

May 28, 2011

Company’s novel biomarker and drug target could represent the first personalized
medicine in RA-promise for future targeted therapy in a multi-factorial
disease

VANCOUVER, May 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ – Augurex Life Sciences Corp. today
reported that in London at the European League Against Rheumatism
(EULAR) Conference, leading arthritis researchers presented important
data on Augurex’s rheumatoid arthritis (RA) biomarker blood test and
novel drug target.

RA is a disease that affects approximately 10 million people worldwide;
however, it can be difficult for a primary care physician to diagnose
because the joint pain symptoms are common to other conditions. This
often delays RA patient referral to an arthritis specialist where they
could otherwise receive therapies to treat or possibly halt the
disease. RA is a particularly debilitative form of arthritis that, if
left untreated, results in 70% of patients developing irreversible
joint damage within 2 years of symptom onset.

This blood test measures 14-3-3 , a protein that is elevated in the
blood of patients with RA while it is relatively absent in healthy
people and those with other types of auto-immune conditions. The
14-3-3 protein was evaluated in 135 RA patients and 130 controls
showing that if patients were positive for the protein, they had a 5 to
50 times greater likelihood of having RA and that its levels were
independent of another commonly used blood test called Rheumatoid
Factor or RF. What this means is that 14-3-3 may be combined with
other blood tests to accurately capture at least 87% of patients with
RA.

“The real focus in RA these days is to ensure that patients are
identified, ideally early in the course of disease, so that they can
get on appropriate treatments that may significantly improve their
short and long-term outcome. What we are seeing in the data is that a
blood test like this one, could assist in identifying more patients
that may have gone longer before being diagnosed”, says Dr. Walter
Maksymowych who is the lead investigator on this study, co-discoverer
of 14-3-3 in arthritis and Medical Research Professor of Medicine and
Rheumatologist at the University of Alberta, Canada.

Other data presented by Dr. Maksymowych at EULAR, described what
14-3-3 ‘s biological role could be in the development of inflammatory
arthritis. Although the protein normally exists inside of healthy
cells, in RA it is externalized and acts back on cells activating key
intracellular pathways causing harmful substances such as, TNF-a, IL-6,
RANKL and MMP-9 to be produced which in turn cause inflammation and
joint damage. Antibody compounds targeted at the 14-3-3 protein were
shown to block its disease-related effects in cells. The uniqueness of
the 14-3-3 protein is that it’s not only measurable in blood to help
identify patients with RA but it seems that if you reduce its harmful
biological effects with antibodies or other drugs that could inactivate
this protein you may be able to treat the disease.

In RA, not unlike cancer, the development of the disease includes
multiple factors that act to varying degrees in different patients.
Therefore, in multi-factorial diseases like RA, targeted therapies are
highly desirable that focus on the most prominent disease contributors
in individual patients. “If you have a direct companion diagnostic
blood test that can specifically identify patients who most need the
therapy and that also gives you an indication of how well the drug is
working, that’s the ideal therapeutic management scenario”, states Dr.
Maksymowych.

If the continued development efforts of the drug are successful then
this protein may represent the first “personalized medicine” target in
rheumatology. The way this would work is that, in patients who have
very little, or no 14-3-3 you would not treat them with the drug that
targets the protein, while in those who have higher levels, you can
dose them with the appropriate amount of anti-14-3-3 drug to remove it
from the body and use the blood test to monitor their response over
time.

SOURCE Augurex Life Sciences Corp.


Source: newswire



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