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Frost & Sullivan Lauds Toscana Biomarkers' Outstanding Contributions to the R&D of Novel Biomarkers for the Diagnosis of Autoimmune Diseases
Date:1/13/2009

LONDON, Jan. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Based on its recent analysis of the autoimmune disease diagnostics markets, Frost & Sullivan recognizes Toscana Biomarkers with the 2008 European Frost & Sullivan Excellence in Research Award. The company demonstrated that the incorporation of synthetically modified peptides for the validation and discovery of biomarkers aids effective diagnosis of autoimmune diseases and is also looking to adopt robust methods to identify novel diagnostic solutions.

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Biomarkers have been used extensively in the genetic and molecular analysis of complications such as autoimmune diseases. Toscana Biomarkers focuses on identifying specific biomarkers detectable in patients' serum samples and validating the same with respect to the disease progression and activity.

"Antigenic peptides that can selectively and specifically recognise autoantibodies can be used in immunoenzymatic assays to detect disease biomarkers," says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Suraj Ramanathan. "Therefore, the company aims to develop robust biomarkers panel for the diagnosis of autoimmune diseases ranging from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) to more complex diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and systemic sclerosis."

To complement its focus on the manufacture of novel disease biomarkers, Toscana Biomarkers is working on developing in-vitro diagnostic assays, especially the enzyme-linked immuno sorbent assay (ELISA) for autoimmune diseases.

The company's R&D revolves around a peptide-based reverse approach [chemical reverse approach (CRA)], which indicates that the screening of antigenic probes is primarily guided by the antibodies circulating in a patient's biological fluids. The circulating auto-antibodies help recognise and optimise the molecular ('chemical') structure of defined and pre-disposed peptide libraries.

"The synthetic post-translationally modified peptides get well recognized by the auto-antibodies, effectively mimicking the neo-antigenic epitopes," notes Suraj Ramanathan. "These peptides could be further screened and used as antigenic probes for the detection of potential biomarkers for each specific disease."

To make optimum use of the potential post-translational modifications (PTMs) associated with the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases, Toscana Biomarkers aims at providing novel diagnostic solutions using disease biomarkers. PTMs such as lipidation, citrullination, and glycosylation play a vital role in antigen recognition, as they are known to alter its immunogenicity and function. Such modifications change the antigens' structural integrity, making them 'neo-antigens' and triggering an immune response (autoimmune).

"Researchers are in the process of introducing synthetically developed antigens subjected to chemical modifications," observes Suraj Ramanathan. "Such synthetic peptides univocally characterised mimic the native neo-antigens."

Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this award to the company that has carried out new 'disruptive' research; and has, in general, a strong commitment to R&D. This award recognizes a company's R&D program that has or is expected to bring significant contributions to the industry in terms of adoption, change, and competitive posture. The award also recognizes the company's overall research excellence as well as its commitment toward differentiating itself based on science-backed services or solutions.

Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognize companies in a variety of regional and global markets for demonstrating outstanding achievement and superior performance in areas such as leadership, technological innovation, customer service, and strategic product development. Industry analysts compare market participants and measure performance through in-depth interviews, analysis, and extensive secondary research in order to identify best practices in the industry.

About Toscana Biomarkers

Toscana Biomarkers S.r.l., headquartered in Siena, Italy, develops innovative diagnostic test kits for the detection and identification of specific biomarkers related to autoimmune diseases. Using a variety of methods based on its proprietary technology, these tests are aimed to provide accuracy, simplicity, and speed in the early diagnosis and treatment of chronic medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. These products are also intended to enhance patient well-being and to reduce associated healthcare costs.

    Toscana Biomarkers Contact:
    Anna Maria Papini, Chief Scientific Officer, Toscana Biomarkers Srl,
    +39 0577 1916272, papini@toscanabiomarkers.com

About Frost & Sullivan

Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, partners with clients to accelerate their growth. The company's TEAM Research, Growth Consulting, and Growth Team Membership(TM) empower clients to create a growth-focused culture that generates, evaluates and implements effective growth strategies. Frost & Sullivan employs over 45 years of experience in partnering with Global 1000 companies, emerging businesses and the investment community from more than 30 offices on six continents. For more information about Frost & Sullivan's Growth Partnership Services, visit http://www.frost.com.

    Frost & Sullivan Contact:
    Ciara Jamie Connolly, Senior Events & Promotions Executive, EMEA, Best
    Practices, Frost & Sullivan, ciara.connolly@frost.com
    P: 0044 (0) 207.915.7868, F: 0044 (0) 207.730.3343, www.frost.com


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