Announced today, Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (“Chugai”), a member of the Roche Group, will extend the company’s licensed access to the Immunogenicity Screening and Protein Reengineering Interface (ISPRI) toolkit developed by EpiVax, Inc. (“EpiVax”).
Chugai, one of Japan’s leading research-based pharmaceutical companies with strengths in biotechnology products, integrated the advanced ISPRI toolkit into their preclinical assessment pipeline after an extended head-to-head comparison with other in silico tools in September 2013. This 3-year extension will continue the companies’ business relationship into 2022, marking 9 years of ISPRI use, a strong testament to the accuracy and utility of the EpiVax immuno-informatics tools.
ISPRI contains several specialized algorithms that assist in assessing immunogenic potential and reducing the likelihood of adverse effects of drug candidates, improving the chance of successful development. ISPRI enables comparisons between novel biologics and a range of natural human proteins and takes into consideration of the impact of Tregitopes (T regulatory epitopes) on immunogenic potential. Tregitopes, discovered by EpiVax, are natural immune system ‘off switches’ whose function is to reduce immunogenicity to hypervariable proteins. Chugai is one of 12 large pharma companies that currently license the tools for screening biologics prior to clinical development.
Chugai researchers have screened thousands of biologic sequences with the ISPRI toolkit, leading to several innovative therapies such as SKY59, a novel anti-C5 recycling antibody, Hemlibra, a ground-breaking bispecific antibody for Hemophilia A, and many others. Dr. Tomoyuki Igawa, Chugai Pharmabody Research Pte. Ltd. (a wholly-owned research subsidiary of Chugai) CEO, stated, “We look forward to continuing the productive use of EpiVax tools in our antibody and protein drug discovery.” Dr. Annie De Groot, CEO and founder of EpiVax, agreed: “We are thankful for this ongoing business relationship with Chugai. We look forward to the next innovative biologics the company will bring to market in the coming years.”
EpiVax, a Rhode Island-based biotechnology company, has developed a secure, interactive web-based work environment for immunogenicity screening, ISPRI. ISPRI can be used for high throughput screening of partial and complete sequences of protein therapeutic candidates, to identify potentially immunogenic regions (known as epitope clusters), and to fine map those individual amino acids that contribute most to the immunogenicity of the cluster. ISPRI is the only screening tool that considers Tregitopes, a unique EpiVax discovery that is associated with regulatory T cell induction. Licensing the ISPRI toolkit and performing customized analyses, EpiVax serves many large pharma and small biotechnology companies worldwide. For more information about EpiVax, visit: http://www.epivax.com.
Chugai is one of Japan’s leading research-based pharmaceutical companies with strengths in biotechnology products. Chugai, based in Tokyo, specializes in prescription pharmaceuticals and is listed on the 1st section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. As an important member of the Roche Group, Chugai is actively involved in R&D activities in Japan and abroad. Specifically, Chugai is working to develop innovative products which may satisfy the unmet medical needs. Additional information is available at https://www.chugai-pharm.co.jp/english.
Dr. Anne De Groot, M.D.
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