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Thoughts about Life and Biotechnology from Tokyo

Here in Tokyo, where we just participated in the “Westin Immunogenicity Seminar”, we are finding impressive resilience and focus on the future. The twin disasters of tsunami and earthquake appear to be in the past, and signs that say “Japan, rising again” greet travelers, as do signs saying “Thank you”, to the countries and corporations who contributed to the recovery from the events of March 2010. Resilience and focus are virtues worth emulating, whether in life or in biotech.

Another virtue worth emulating in life and biotechnology is honesty. That should be the backbone of every relationship, whether corporate or human. We definitely prize honesty at EpiVax, and it is for that reason that we share our work in public, non-commercial forums and submit our research for publication.

For example, we know that Host Cell Proteins (HCP) are a new focus for the FDA. So we’re working on analyzing the published CHO genome using methods published previously in our vaccine design papers.* Which are the most immunogenic epitopes in CHO? Well, they’ll be (i) upregulated in culture, (ii) secreted, and (iii) different from human in key regions of the CHO protein sequence that can be presented to T cells by human HLA. See here for the application of this theory to biologics. See here for my previous post on the CHO genome and come to IIR if you want to hear more.

As we’ve published, not all T cell epitopes are bad, in fact, some are good. We call those Tregitopes. We will also be presenting data on Tregitope during a plenary at the Autoimmunity conference in Granada, and at the AAI meeting in Boston in May. You can also find a list of our recent papers here and our scheduled presentations here.

And finally, the 4th Annual Tregitope Symposium will be held on April 20th, 2012 at the same location as IIR’s 13th Annual Immunogenicity for Biotherapeutics. There’s a small fee for attending that covers the cost of lunch. Please contact us to reserve a seat.

We look forward to open and honest discussions with our scientific colleagues!

And thanks for reading this post.

Sincerely, Annie

*A comprehensive review defining the steps we use to identify regions of proteins that are immunogenic, published in Immunology and Cellular Biology (a Nature journal) can be found here.