Researchers at Augusta University have obtained a patent for a predictive, diagnostic, and prognostic kit that will help address issues surrounding Sjögren’s syndrome. The autoimmune disease leads to dry eyes, dry mouth, and tooth decay as well as arthritis and, in rare cases, lymphoma. It also affects more than 4 million Americans, or about 1% of the population, and 90% of those who suffer from it are women.
“We noticed that there are a few biomarkers that increase in the patient’s tissue and salivary glands when a person has Sjögren’s syndrome,” said Babak Baban, PhD, associate professor at the Dental College of Georgia at the university. “We worked on these biomarkers and looked at blood circulation and noticed that there is an increase in circulation systemically when the biomarkers increase.”
The researchers have developed a method that could diagnose Sjögren’s syndrome with a simple finger prick. The protocol also can determine if people are susceptible to the disease, if they have it, and how treatment will affect them. Next, the researchers will focus on further advances to develop a kit with the ultimate goal of partnering with a pharmaceutical company to produce it.
“It’s a great feeling to see that your efforts have been recognized not only by the university but by the federal authority,” said Baban. “This patent means they see the importance of the discovery and are recognizing it. They see the value in our research, feel that it is novel, and there is a demand and a need for a diagnostic kit. The recognition is like someone saying, ‘You have something here that is worth being addressed.’”