There are nearly 100 autoimmune diseases, illnesses where the body attacks itself, like with lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. A local company is developing tests to determine if a patient has one of those illnesses.
Often, a diagnosis is filling out a check list and if enough of the questions are answered "yes," that particular autoimmune disease is diagnosed. A local start-up, Aesku.NY, has an approved test for several of these diseases and more on the way.
Potentially, it's good for the economy because the test kits are made here and company founder Dr. Vijay Kumar said there are 15 employees currently, but eventually might be 50, with many in very well-paid jobs.
Kumar said there are a lot more people hit with these diseases than anyone realized, citing celiac disease and its antipathy to gluten.
"The sequence is 1-to-100, no matter where you go," he said. "Symptoms change, so that was one of the reasons celiac disease was not identified early on in North America. In some countries, with gluten as the mainstay, you will see symptoms in the children much more, compared to here."
Aesku.NY is backed by the German company AESKU.DIAGNOSTICS, which did much of the work in getting the first two tests through the regulatory process out into the market and there are more tests in process.
"In many autoimmune diseases, if you don't have a good test, it takes many years to pinpoint a diagnosis," he said. "Again, coming back to celiac disease, it used to be 3-5 years before a diagnosis is made. Think about how many physicians, clinicians, laboratories, the patient might have gone through."
Kumar said it costs millions of dollars to get one of these tests approved in the regulatory process and get it out into the marketplace.