Moorestown doctor crusades against diabetes and other autoimmune diseases

Source: Courier Post
Anna Elder, at 11, is a happy little girl who loves gymnastics, history class, Long Beach Island and living life fully. “I’m a competitive gymnast,” she’ll tell you, eyes sparkling. She also plays the flute, and adores her puppy, Cocoa. But her life changed when she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 8.
The autoimmune disease formerly known as juvenile diabetes hit hard and suddenly. A variety of symptoms landed the Moorestown child in intensive care at Virtua Hospital, where diagnosis was made and treatment began.
And while it’s no fun to monitor everything you eat and test your blood eight times a day, Elder has adjusted. “You just get used to it,” she said. But her mother’s older sister, immunologist Dr. Sandra Saouaf of Moorestown, has other thoughts…
“I majored in biology at Rutgers New Brunswick, and earned my PhD in immunology from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, where I concentrated on the causes of diseases and disease mechanisms.” The more Saouaf saw and learned, the more she felt the need for more information about treatment options for autoimmune disorders. They include Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis and many others…
(I)n 2012, after she discovered a possible treatment approach for autoimmune diseases through oral drugs, called ABS11, Saouaf started Atlantic Bio Sci, LLC. With the company, she plans to do further research and qualify for advanced trials which may produce targeted disease-modifying oral therapeutics…Saouaf is troubled by the slow progress to find treatment for other autoimmune diseases. And, the treatments out there for diseases other than Type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis sometimes come with complications, including infections and certain cancers that can lead to patient deaths.
A few months ago, Saouaf started a crowdfunding project, a social media appeal for financial backing. Saouaf estimates Atlantic Bio-Sci will require about $3 million in order to get to clinical trial stage. “It’s a pretty long and involved process, but I have high hopes,” said Saouaf. “I’m optimistic about ABS11 and being on the brink of something so important.” Contributors to can choose which autoimmune disease will be first to be involved in trials.
Anna Elder, who is going into sixth grade at Moorestown Upper Elementary School, says “My aunt is really cool, and I’m very happy that she’s doing this work because it will help lots of people. She’s very smart!”

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