Glycans are the predominant surface components of cells and therefore play a key role in facilitating cell-to-cell communications, and when proteins bind together. For instance, antibodies, which are disease-fighting proteins, operate at the molecular level by binding to an antigenic stimulus; such as a bacterium, virus or parasite, thereby neutralizing the stimulus. Many antibodies can only perform this binding function through interaction with glycans located on the surface of the antigen’s cells.
When a person has an autoimmune disease, the individual will have higher levels of anti-glycan antibodies. Antibody levels often correlate to disease progression. Therefore, the ability to identify and analyze glycan antibodies is a powerful tool for early diagnosis and prognosis of autoimmune diseases. Detection of antibodies may even allow diagnosis of a disease to the onset of physical symptoms as well as predicting disease severity and damage.
Anti-glycan antibodies can also be used in prognostic testing, which enables clinicians to treat their patients more intelligently and efficiently, by correlating the presence of specific glycans to the historical data regarding the development and presentation of certain diseases. For example, Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic disease lasting decades. Its development is highly variable as some patients develop their next clinical event several months after the initial one, while others take many years. Other patients may not have a subsequent event at all. Current standard treatment is suboptimal. It requires injection, has side effects and is expensive. Identifying which patients actually need this treatment or identifying which patients would benefit from aggressive treatment over the progression of their disease could significantly improve the efficiency of treatment and patients’ quality of life.
Similarly, the ability to predict that the prognosis for a Crohn's Disease patient indicating the eventual need for abdominal surgery would enable physicians to treat such a patient with more potent biological drugs and potential improve the chances of avoiding surgery and improving the patient’s quality of life.
Historically, glycans have been considered difficult to immobilize and scan systematically, unstable and difficult to analyze without expensive special analysis equipment. Glycominds’ technology overcomes these difficulties. Therefore, we have been able to isolate glycan biomarkers whose presence denotes the presence and progress of a particular disease as well as track changes in antibody levels using glycan markers we have isolated. We have also adapted glycan assays, which can detect the level of anti-glycan antibodies in a blood sample, to standard diagnostic laboratory equipment and standards, enabling commercializing of our tests using existing laboratory equipment.