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Toads become noblemen, queens become swans, pre-schoolers become Jedi warriors… we’re all familiar with shape-shifting – usually achieved through divine intervention, or the use of magic spells or talismans, and apparently a world-wide phenomenon on Halloween. Lifting a page from mythology, biologics manufacturers are now transforming the protein sequences of biologic drugs. This is bringing new excitement to the field! Consider for example . . .

Stealth “Botox”!

In news out today, Ipsen and EpiVax have announced the completion of a collaborative project that resulted in a “stealth” version of the botulinum neurotoxin therapeutic better known as “Botox”, or BonT/A (for Botulinum neurotoxin type “A”). Not only are BoNT/A products in use by those who seek to be eternally young, but the drugs are used to treat spastic paralysis, excessive sweating, and a range of other medical conditions. BoNT/A and proteins like it (such as Tetanus Toxin) can be used to interfere with the proteins that control motor and nerve synapses (this new class of drugs is called targeted secretion inhibitors, or TSI), and have the potential be used as pain killers, among many other applications.

However, these types of foreign proteins, such as tetanus and other toxins, can be immunogenic, reducing their efficacy. . . and so we’re pleased to announce that EpiVax (USA) and Ipsen (France) have developed an improved Botulinum toxin platform that has T cell epitopes removed, and yet is equally effective . . . Read the press release by clicking this link. We’ve also applied the approach other biologics, such as GAA for Pompe’s disease … and other targets. Biobetters are the next Wave in biologics! (exciting news about the new Biobetter ‘Wave’ endeavor at EpiVax will be released, very soon!)

Removing the Stealth from Influenza

It turns out the the same shape-shifting principle (only different) can be applied to vaccines, by addressing the sequences that pathogens (yes, viruses AND bacteria) have been using for millennia to hide from immune response, better known as immune camouflage. Pathogens seem to be introducing immunosuppressive sequences into their critical antigens, reducing our ability to attach and destroy pathogens such as HIV, Hepatitis C, and Tuberculosis. Removing these sequences from vaccine antigens is a new approach, pioneered by EpiVax. Here more about it at the . .. .

Best Little Vaccine Conference in the Tiny-But Mighty-State of Rhode Island!

Just a quick reminder that some of the world’s most renowned vaccine and immunology researchers are preparing to convene at the University of Rhode Island’s iCubed to attend the 9th Vaccine Renaissance. Now in its 9th year, this conference provides a nexus for vaccine developers and highlights the crucial role vaccines play in human health. Among this year’s guests are Sohail Ahmed of GSK, Manon Cox of Protein Sciences and Mark Poznansky of Harvard Medical School (and many more!). Don’t miss the best little vaccine conference on the East Coast – the 9th Vaccine Renaissance, Providence RI November 4-6th 2015. The conference is organized by the Institute for Immunology and Informatics at the University of Rhode Island.
And Happy Halloween, Shape-Shifters!