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Epivax announces NIH-funded grant to develop new Graves’ disease therapy

Providence, Rhode Island
Thursday, December 21, 2017, 17:00 Hrs  [IST]

EpiVax has announced their latest development programme for novel antigen-specific therapies, an approach which may have applications across a range of autoimmune diseases. The first therapeutic target is Graves’ disease, an autoimmune condition resulting in hyperthyroidism.

Current methods for managing Graves’ disease are associated with adverse effects, often require life-long replacement therapy, and do not address the root cause of hyperthyroidism.

EpiVax’s award will support the development of a novel Tregitope-biotherapeutic (Treg-BT) intended to restore immunological balance in Graves’ disease, an approach that could lead to long-term drug- and surgery-free solutions for more than 300,000 Graves’ disease patients in the US.

Phase I will demonstrate the utility of a Tregitope therapy in the treatment and management of Graves’ disease by reprogramming the autoimmune response to the thyroid receptor. This work builds upon research conducted by renowned endocrinologist Leslie De Groot, and is now carried forward by his daughter Annie De Groot and co-investigators Eduardo Guillen, Ricardo Correa, Geetha Gopalakrishnan, with support from Hidefumi Inaba.

In collaboration with LifeSpan, EpiVax will produce a candidate Treg-BT platform designed to down-regulate thyroid stimulating antibodies.“We believe that this therapeutic approach directly addresses the underlying autoimmune process causing the disease, and could potentially augment or replace current treatments in Graves’ disease”, commented Dr. Gopalakrishnan, Department Head of the Lifespan Endocrine Department. “This type of pathogenesis-modulating therapy will clearly have implications for the treatment of a wide range of other T-cell mediated autoimmune diseases.”


Tregitopes are a set of peptides first discovered in human immunoglobulin by De Groot and Martin at EpiVax. Similar to the existing autoimmune disease therapy IVIg, Tregitopes are capable of downregulating inflammation by engaging regulatory T cells.

LifeSpan is a large multi-hospital academic medical center that offers the most advanced and highest quality medical care in centers of excellence that include diabetes and endocrinology, cardiology, orthopedics, cancer care, women’s medicine, emergency services among others.


Research  was supported by the National Institute of Diabetes And Digestive And Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R43DK115365.

 

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