The collaboration involves the lab of Christian Lood, PhD, an assistant professor in the division of rheumatology at UW Medicine. His lab’s study focus is the role of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell, in inflammation and autoimmunity, with an emphasis on systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
“Neutrophils are the main immune cells in the human circulation, participating in host defense through mechanisms including production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), phagocytosis [the ingestion of cells and other materials] formation of neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) … in which DNA is extruded … to trap and eliminate extracellular pathogens,” Lood said in a news release. “Although beneficial from a host-pathogen perspective, exaggerated neutrophil activation and NET formation has been linked to autoimmunity, particularly in SLE and RA.”
The partnership also reflects Exagen’s interest in supporting the development of more effective tools to diagnose, predict, and monitor autoimmune diseases, the company said in the release.
“We are excited to be working with Dr. Lood and his research regarding neutrophils and autoimmune diseases such as SLE and RA. We believe Exagen’s support for this promising research demonstrates our commitment to the advancement of clinical solutions for these complex and lifelong diseases,” said Thierry Dervieux, PhD, chief science officer and medical director at Exagen.
Exagen has developed and is commercializing a number of new testing products under the brand AVISE, including the AVISE Lupus diagnostic test.
The test is based on 10 different SLE biomarkers and, according to Exagen, has greater sensitivity and specificity than other SLE diagnostic tests. It is based on Exagen’s proprietary Cell-Bound Complement Activation Products, or CB-CAPs, technology, which assesses the activation of the complement system, an immune system pathway widely implicated in autoimmune conditions like SLE and RA.
CoMotion, UW’s innovation hub that aids researchers and works to advance their ideas and discoveries, supported Lood by filing a patent application covering his work, and participated in the research agreement related to his collaboration with Exagen.