Meet our Director of Rheumatology

Anne C. Bay-Jensen

Meet Anne C. Bay-Jensen, Director of Rheumatology at Nordic Bioscience. She started working here in 2008, and just celebrated her 10-year anniversary 1 March 2018! Anne is the daily leader of 20 scientists and technicians. Her main-focus area is development, test and validation of biomarkers for translational science, drug development and personalized medicine.

Introduction

Anne C. Bay-Jensen brings a persistent drive for biomarker research and development to Nordic. It fascinates her how biomarkers may provide value in easing translation science, drug development and development of diagnostics for diseases as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Anne’s interest in rheumatology was formed during her PhD studies at a Danish Hospital. Here, she build her strong knowledge on the pathogenesis of joint destruction and osteoarthritis disease progression. Anne continued her work at Nordic Bioscience as a research scientist and has since been involved in the research and development of numerous validated markers.

Anne has agreed to share her thoughts on her work:

Why are serum biomarkers so important?

The type of serum biomarkers that we develop are non-invasive and readily measurable tools. I strongly believe that this is the first step in providing value for a biomarker – if it is too complicated to measure, it will have no real clinical applicability. Secondly, another important factor is that biomarkers often provide (or should provide) tools enabling translational research. This means, that we can track the change in the tissue/system as course of pathogenesis or in response to a given drug, going from preclinical experiments to clinical studies. Biomarkers are tools to describe what is going on, on a molecular level, which helps us understand what is up and down.  

Why are biomarkers, reflecting collagens and other tissue proteins, of interest in rheumatology?

Traditionally, biomarkers in rheumatic diseases have been focused on acute reactants or inflammatory mediators such as cytokines. The down-side of these types of biomarkers is that they do not tell you anything about what is going on in the tissue, which is where the disease is manifested and where the deterioration is happening. If we treat with a drug, we would like to know if the affected tissue is protected or healed. This is why I am consumed by the idea of measuring metabolites from the tissue – I want to establish whether there are degradation, formation or status quo

We have, through the last decades used our heads and hands to gain more knowledge of the connection between the proteins of the diseased tissue. In diseased state, the remodeling and maintenance balance is disrupted, and this imbalance results in an increase of tissue metabolites in circulation. We have shown, in multiple studies, that effective treatment stabilize the balance back to normal. We have also shown that certain treatments cannot, which is just as important, since it may prevent further costly development of ineffective drugs.

What are the advantages of understanding the tissue proteins in a clinical development setting?

Understanding the metabolization of tissue opens various doors and pathways in the context of precision medicine. For example, we have found that a sub-group of patients displays different biomarker profiles, and that these profiles are associated with different degrees of disease activity and progression. With this knowledge, we can assist in the process of tailoring medical treatment, based on the individual patient characteristics. In the essence, it enables tailored treatments for patients based on their biomarker profile and progression of disease. In the end, the goal is to enable treatment prediction and select patients with an increased likelihood of response to a specific treatment.