MUSC partners with biotech firm on lupus biomarkers

By Ashley Barker
abarker@scbiznews.com
Published May 14, 2014

The Medical University of South Carolina will work with biopharmaceutical firm Berg to identify potential biomarkers to treat lupus, according to a news release.

Through a new partnership, Berg’s Interrogative Biology platform will be applied to several serum, urine and kidney data points from patients in MUSC’s rheumatology clinics. Data from tissue samples will be analyzed to look for a biomarker that predicts the onset and progression of lupus, an autoimmune disease affecting one in every 2,000 people, according to Berg.

Berg and MUSC are partnering to expand and accelerate their searches for lupus biomarkers. (Photo by Ashley Barker)
Berg and MUSC are partnering to expand and accelerate their searches for lupus biomarkers. (Photo by Ashley Barker)
The partnership will allow Berg and MUSC to expand and accelerate their searches for lupus biomarkers, according to Niven R. Narain, Berg’s president and chief technology officer.

“We’re looking to uncover actionable insights, leading to the identification of new targets and, ultimately, the development of more patient-friendly, personalized therapies,” Narain said in a statement.

What the companies learn through the partnership should help MUSC doctors provide tailored drug therapies to their lupus patients, according to Dr. Gary Gilkeson, professor of medicine at MUSC and director of the Lupus Research Group.

“Lupus presents a variety of health concerns and complications, ranging from arthritis to renal failure, and whilst drugs exist, they are only partially effective for about half our patients,” Gilkeson said in a statement. “Combining Berg’s platform with our database and expertise puts us in a greater position to better understand this complex disease.”

The Interrogative Biology platform has previously found targets, therapeutics and biomarkers for cancer, metabolic diseases such as diabetes and obesity, and neurodevelopment disorders such as autism spectrum disorder, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Reach staff writer Ashley Barker at 843-849-3144 or @AshleyNBarker on Twitter.

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