Protagen, Bayer expand joint effort on endometriosis biomarkers

Protagen and Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals are collaborating to validate diagnostic biomarkers for endometriosis, a painful and distressing gynecological condition. Diagnosis is currently determined through laparoscopic surgery, and biomarker diagnostics would be less invasive and would also allow diagnosis much earlier, before the disease spreads and complications set in.

In 2010, the partners carried out an endometriosis biomarker discovery study using Protagen's UNIarray technology, which focuses on autoantibodies (antibodies that target the body's own proteins). This current collaboration is an expansion of the existing agreement, in order to clinically validate the predictive biomarkers that arose from the initial study. Protagen hopes that developing a predictive biomarker assay will improve the patient's quality of life.

Around 5%-10% of women develop endometriosis, in which cells that normally line the womb develop in other parts of the abdomen. This causes severe pain and can lead to infertility, as well as causing distress and resulting in days lost from work and other responsibilities. There is no cure, but women with endometriosis are treated with hormonal medications and painkillers, and may have to have a hysterectomy.

According to Protagen, its technology also has potential for use in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, as well as in chronic inflammatory diseases and cancer.

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