February 7, 2008 (Providence, RI)—- EpiVax, Inc, a leader in the field of computational immunology, presented data at the Keystone Symposium on Tolerance and Transplantation (January 29-Feb 3, 2008), in Keystone Colorado confirming the activity of natural “Tregitopes” to induce tolerance to a wide range of antigens in vitro and in vivo (in animal models). This research is expected to lead to the development of new treatments for autoimmune diseases such as Auto-immune Thyroid Disease (Graves’ Disease) and Multiple Sclerosis. In addition, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), the world’s largest charitable funder of type 1 diabetes research, awarded EpiVax $350,000 to develop the Tregitopes also known as “Epi-13 ™”, as a novel therapeutic for the prevention and treatment of type I diabetes, a devastating and chronic autoimmune disease that affects three million Americans today.
“The data we presented at the Keystone conference provided proof of concept and promise for the commercial development of an immune-based therapy for a range of autoimmune diseases,” said Anne De Groot, M.D., President and CEO of EpiVax. The model that was described related to induction of tolerance to allergens and also to thyroid stimulating hormone receptor, the critical antigen in the development of Graves’ disease. “We hope to make it possible for persons living with allergy and autoimmunity to reduce dependence on immune-suppressive drugs and to live longer with fewer symptoms.”
The title of the talk was “A Novel Model of IVIG Immunosuppression: Activation of Natural Regulatory T cells by IgG-Derived Peptides”. Co-authors included William Martin, CIO of EpiVax, Philippe Moingeon of Stallergenes, and David Scott of the University of Maryland.
In most patients with autoimmune disease, responses to the body’s own proteins cause tissue damage or dysregulation of normal body functions. Autoimmune diseases include such illnesses as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Juvenile Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, and others The approach used by EpiVax is called “Antigen-Specific Adaptive Tolerance Induction (ASATI™)” to specifically target and reduce undesirable immune responses. EpiVax used its proprietary computer algorithms to identify the molecules that induce ASATI.
Because ASATI uses the body’s own natural responses, this intervention has the potential to be far safer than immunosuppressive drugs that are now being studied. The promising treatment, called Epi-13™, may have application to a broad range of auto-immune disorders.
EpiVax is pioneering the use of immunoinformatics for making safer, more effective human therapeutics. This approach also offers hope for individualizing therapies, also known as “immuno-pharmacogenomics”.
The EpiVax research program is being carried out in collaboration with Dr. David Scott of the University of Maryland, with Dr. Charles Eil of Fall River, with Dr. Joe Friedman of Neurohealth in Warwick, RI, and with Robert Smith of the Hallett Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology at Rhode Island Hospital. According to Dr. Smith, a leading expert in the treatment of Type 1 diabetes, “This research deals with a critically important clinical problem and the approach EpiVax is taking in developing new diabetes therapies holds great promise.”
Epi-13™ is a group of “Tregitope” peptides that induce the body’s own natural regulatory T cells. When administered in conjunction with other antigens or protein immunogens, the response to these immunogens is diminished and altered if the antigen/immunogens are co-administered with Epi-13. Preliminary in vitro and in vivo studies indicate that the modification of the immune response is due to the induction of natural T reg cells.
EpiVax, Inc. is dedicated to merging in vitro immunology research with bioinformatics to generate new therapeutics for cancer and autoimmune diseases as well as new vaccines for infectious diseases such as HIV, TB, and hepatitis. T cell epitope mapping, the selection of target peptides from any protein sequence, is a powerful resource for the development of novel protein therapeutics. EpiVax research shows that peptides chosen by EpiMatrix™ software are highly likely to provoke an immune response when presented to T cells. EpiVax tools can also accurately deimmunize proteins. For more information about EpiVax, please visit www.epivax.com.