In keeping in line with their intent to develop a culture of innovation with a focus on the patient; and to be the reference partner in data analysis for predictive and personalized medicine for the European market; DNAlytics, a Spin-Off of the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL), has just announced the launch of a new diagnostic solution for patients with arthritis.
Today, the ability to make an early diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is a great challenge and a medical need that rheumatologists and orthopædic surgeons are actively trying to meet. Approximately one half of all patients diagnosed with undifferentiated arthritis* will eventually develop overt rheumatoid arthritis, and the delay in making the correct diagnosis and initiating appropriate therapy is an ongoing risk for patients.
Through the support of a BioWin initiative, an innovative microchip has been developed based on transcriptomic studies performed by a team from UCL and other Belgian universities. The studies were designed to validate the diagnostic value seen in early arthritis based on the preliminary data shown in gene expression profiles in synovial biopsies taken from patients with early arthritis. Researchers performing these studies discovered that these gene expression profiles in these biopsies were strikingly different according to the underlying condition. The broad-scale confirmation of this data following the two-year project has thus led to the development of Rheumakit, a diagnostic tool to be used to assist specialists in their routine rheumatology practice.
The Rheumakit technology hosts a PCR microfluidics card that, combined to clinical markers, has the ability to discriminate rheumatoid arthritis from other joint conditions. Currently, a diagnostic model based on the signature is trained to identify patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, seronegative arthritis and osteoarthritis, but future development of the technology intends to offer the possibility of positively identifying patients with other types of arthritis as well. Keep in mind, the Rheumakit is not intended to replace the expertise of the clinician but will help to reveal relevant information that has until now remained hidden in early stages of arthritis. The kit will therefore enable the treating specialist to make more timely decisions, in efforts to better serve the needs of the patients.
The solution, available at http://www.rheumakit.com, relies on other technological innovations, since it provides its diagnostics via a secured web platform, and it heavily uses cloud-computing technologies.
Also important to note, the interest in such technology for UCL and DNAlytics in the long run is not only in delivering a diagnostic label, but, and perhaps more importantly, provide accurate individual prognostic and theranostic information based on well-characterized molecular and clinical profiles that have previously been latent in early diagnosis. In addition to developing the diagnostic capabilities, the researchers are also working on the identification of markers of disease severity, as well as therapy responsiveness.
Thanks to this innovative technology, the ability to differentiate Rheumatoid arthritis from other joint conditions will now be possible at the early onset of the disease allowing more accurate treatments and therapeutic solutions for the patient. With the launch of Rheumakit, DNAlytics will surely be opening new doors towards a cutting-edge diagnostic approach and more accurate treatment of arthritis; for patients, surgeons and clinicians alike.
And there is more to come from DNAlytics and the Rheumakit:
On March 11th, DNAlytics, for the RheumaKit project, was announced a finalist of the eHealth SME competition organized by the European Commission. The competition’s initiative rewards the best eHealth solutions produced by European Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Its objective is to support the success of SMEs by providing visibility together with marketing opportunities to attract customers, partners and external capital. The Competition Final will take place at the eHealth Week in Dublin (Ireland) on Monday, May 13th, 2013.
Also this month, a scientific abstract describing, “Rheumakit, an early diagnostic solution for patients with arthritis”, was granted the “Young Inspiring Scientist Award” from FlandersBio and will be presented by DNAlytic’s CEO, Thibault Helleputte in the main research hall at the Knowledge For Growth Convention (Gent, Belgium). The project was co-authored by Daniel Hernandez-Lobato, Pierre Dupont and Bernard Lauwerys who were the main contributors of the results behind rheumakit in the rheumagene project. Of the 170 abstracts submitted, only 2 scientific abstracts were selected by an independent jury for oral presentation in the Knowledge for Growth Programme. Knowledge for Growth is Europe’s largest regional life science convention (1050 individual participants were in attendance last year). This year’s convention will focus on “New Business Models creating Companies for the Future”. In a constantly changing industry, the 2013 conference aims to provide more in depth insight into new business models covering the following topics: research and funding, financial markets, international business and creativity. The 9th edition of the annual life science convention hosted by FlandersBio will take place at the ICC Ghent on Thursday, May 30th, 2013. Have a look at the programme.
Congratulations to Mr. Helleputte, DNAlytics and the members of the Biowin Rheumagene consortium for such honorable achievements and best of luck in these upcoming events!
* A condition in which joint inflammation is present, but a precise diagnosis cannot be made, due to the lack of sensitivity in diagnostic techniques available today.
Note:The Rheumakit will be available mid 2013.
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