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OMRF, Biogen Form Sjogren Biomarker Collaboration

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) and Biogen announced today that they are collaborating to discover biomarkers that can be used to identify patients with the autoimmune disease Sjogren's syndrome who would be likely to respond to treatments under development at the company.

"Every drug doesn't work the same way in every patient, so the goal of this partnership with OMRF is to develop a sort of pre-screening test to determine which patients would respond favorably to their Sjogren's medication," Michael Mingueneau, a member of Biogen's immunology research group, said in a statement.

Sjogren's syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that affects mucous membranes and moisture-secreting glands, with symptoms ranging from from dry eyes and mouth to joint pain and fatigue. It is often treated with immunosuppressants.

Under the partnership, OMRF's Kathy Sivils and colleagues will build off their ongoing research into the genetics of Sjogren's syndrome, working with Biogen to analyze patient samples to find biomarkers that might indicate which patients will respond well to treatment. The foundation said that she aims to develop a companion diagnostic that physicians can use to offer patients the most appropriate therapy. 

The collaboration is also expected to help OMRF's efforts to build early-stage relationships with biopharmaceutical companies, Manu Nair, OMRF's vice president of technology ventures, noted in the statement.

"By combining the resources and expertise of Biogen and OMRF, we hope that we can speed the process of creating new and better treatment management tools for patients suffering from autoimmune disease," he added.