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Major European Research Project to Focus on Detection and Prevention of Rheumatoid Arthritis

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 14 Aug 2013
The European Union has agreed to fund a multimillion euro research project aimed at detection and prevention of rheumatoid arthritis in individuals who do not yet have symptoms of the disease.

Funding for the first four years of the EuroTEAM (Towards Early diagnosis and biomarker validation in Arthritis Management) project will be more than 5.7 million euros. These funds will underwrite the research efforts of 13 academic partners from six European countries - the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, and Austria, as well as three industry partners, from Germany, the Netherlands, and Iceland.

The biotech company ORGENTEC Diagnostika (Mainz, Germany), which will head up the search for biomarkers in the blood, will be a major player on EuroTEAM. ORGENTEC is a global leader in development, production, and marketing of test systems for laboratory diagnostics. The company offers numerous highly specific ELISA tests, immunoblots, and kits for immunofluorescence assays. Its point of care test "rheumachec" was the first rapid test for diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis.

In the case of a chronic inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, the goal is prevention. Development of preventive strategies and therapies requires (1) identification of biomarkers that can be used to predict an individual's risk of developing the disease, and (2) identification and characterization of modifiable disease mechanisms that can be manipulated in the early phases of disease.

The key objective of the TEAM consortium is to specifically identify diagnostic biomarkers and disease mechanisms operating during the transition from health to rheumatoid arthritis. The plan is to achieve this by developing a collaborative, integrated program of work that will link academic researchers with key SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) involved in biomarker development to produce a personalized predictive biomarker profile for patients destined to develop rheumatoid arthritis. Ultimately, the project will directly involve other medical specialists and patients.

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