New Treatment Strategies May Bring Relief for Asthma and Allergies


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Thanks to the exciting breakthroughs of Mark Siracusa, a researcher at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, there might be warning signs of light at the end of the tunnel. Image for illustration purposes.

Mega Doctor News

By Rutgers University Research Office

News – Asthma and allergies are chronic health problems that continue to negatively impact the quality of life of many people around the world. Thanks to the exciting breakthroughs of Mark Siracusa, a researcher at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, there might be warning signs of light at the end of the tunnel. According to Syracuse, many allergies are difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to treat, and doctors prescribe many medications that only alleviate some of the symptoms without preventing disease. Syracuse has focused its attention and research on mast cells, a type of white blood cell that is part of the body’s first line of defense in the immune system, but also the primary driver of asthma and allergies.

“Although we have known about mast cells for over 100 years, they have remained very difficult to study,” said Siracusa, director of the Research Support Core and associate professor of medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. “By taking advantage of emerging technologies, we have been able to generate tools that, for the first time, allow us to study these cells at a very granular level. These advances have enabled us to discover exciting new therapeutic targets that can bring significant relief to patients. Mast cells live between external and internal tissues, detecting foreign bodies and releasing chemicals to alert the immune system. However, allergies and asthma can occur if mast cells overreact to non-threatening stimulants, causing the immune system to trigger even when there is no threat.

With funding from the Foundation Venture Capital Group (FVCG), a subsidiary of the New Jersey Health Foundation (NJHF), and support from the Rutgers Office for Research, Siracusa founded NemaGen Discoveries, Inc., a biotech startup aimed at advancing therapies for patients with mast cell diseases and chronic inflammation.

“The missions of the NJHF and NemaGen are perfectly aligned: to improve the quality of life of suffering patients. We are delighted that our funding will help advance NemaGen’s research, which can potentially lead to the solution these patients need, ”said George F. Heinrich, MD, vice president and CEO of NJHF and FVCG. “We look forward to working with Dr Siracusa and Rutgers University to successfully commercialize NemaGen technology. “

The Rutgers startup was created to identify new approaches to disrupt and combat mast cells, which until now have taken precedence over the medical treatment of both diseases. Examples of allergies include hay fever, food allergies, and eczema, as well as more dangerous diseases such as mastocytosis and mast cell activation syndrome.

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“Dr. Syracuse’s groundbreaking research on allergic inflammation and mast cell-mediated disease could prove essential in the treatment of allergies and asthma,” said Tatiana Litvin-Vechnyak, PhD, vice president Innovation Ventures Associate at the Rutgers Office for Research. “Her work embodies Rutgers’ Jersey Roots, Global Reach” philosophy, and her ongoing research has the potential to improve the lives of millions of people around the world.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hundreds of millions of people around the world suffer from allergies or asthma, of which nearly 300 million suffer from asthma alone. In the United States, the annual cost of these two diseases is over $ 18 billion.

Syracuse described NemaGen’s next steps and what the FVCG funding enables the company to accomplish. “The NJHF has been a longtime collaborator in advancing research at Rutgers. They immediately recognized the clinical relevance of our work at a very early stage and provided us with business-oriented advice and seed funding to advance our drug discovery programs. With the support of both institutions, we can further advance our new chemical compounds that have exciting therapeutic potential. “

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