OMRF hosted an international research conference this week focused on recent innovations and strategies for improving the lives of patients with Sjögren’s disease.
The event, titled “Biomarkers and Targeted Therapeutics in Sjögren’s (BATTS),” ran from Sept. 19-22 at the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City.
Sjögren’s is a painful, chronic autoimmune disease in which a person’s immune system attacks the body’s own moisture-producing glands, damaging its ability to produce tears or saliva. Joint pain, fatigue, and a variety of additional systemic problems may also occur in many patients. Diagnosis and treatment are a significant clinical challenge.
The event brought in 160 physicians, scientists and industry representatives from 18 countries to focus on facilitating precision practices in every aspect of clinical care, including patient diagnosis, prognosis, therapeutic response and prevention, said BATTS chair and OMRF scientist Kathy Sivils, Ph.D.
“The reception to this event was overwhelmingly positive,” said Sivils. “Many of the top Sjögren’s experts from around the world came to Oklahoma City to present their work, share ideas, and build new collaborations for future efforts – all of which hold immeasurable value for tackling difficult clinical challenges in Sjogren’s.”
The conference also focused on leveraging lessons learned from related autoimmune diseases and strategies to improve clinical trials. Sivils said a key result of this event was strengthening partnerships between companies that are developing new diagnostic tools or therapies and the researchers who are working to understand the root causes of this complex disease.
“A lot of things still need to be sorted out in order to understand Sjögren’s and combat it effectively,” said Saba Nayar from the University of Birmingham in the U.K. “This was an incredibly beneficial experience, and it was great to see the interest and passion shared by everyone studying this disease. People are working hard.”
Stergios Katsiougiannis, Ph.D., from the University of California, Los Angeles, seconded the positive sentiments regarding the conference and its value to the comprehensive approach to understanding and treating Sjögren’s syndrome.
“It really highlights the importance of bringing together all fields of study on this disease,” he said.