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Start-Up ImmusanT Seeks to Restore Tolerance to Gluten in Celiac Disease with Immunotherapy
Date:3/15/2011

t for celiac disease, which have the potential to dramatically improve management of this lifelong disease," said Bob Anderson, PhD, MBChB, a gastroenterologist and highly respected international expert in immunology and clinical management of celiac disease at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research.

Nexvax2 is delivered intradermally in small doses to reprogram and desensitize the disease-causing T-cells triggered by the patient's immune response to gluten. The approach is similar to treatments for allergies to cats, ragweed or dust mites, whereby repeated doses establish non-responsiveness to a specific antigen, and in the case of celiac disease, reduces or eliminates the body's rejection of dietary gluten. By reprogramming the T-cell response, the Nexvax2 approach is designed to reduce inflammation in the villi which line the small intestine and are responsible for absorbing nutrients. This returns the intestine to a normal healthy state.

Leveraging ImmusanT's proprietary peptide technology, the company has a commercial agreement with INOVA Diagnostics to develop improved serology diagnostic screening tests for celiac disease. In addition to using existing blood tests, currently the disease is diagnosed by a gastroenterologist using an endoscopic biopsy to take multiple tissue samples from the small intestine. In parallel, ImmusanT is developing a novel, simple whole-blood ELISA companion test to measure the activity of T-cells causing celiac disease and monitor optimal maintenance of immune tolerance with Nexvax2. Both diagnostic approaches may eliminate the need for an invasive surgical biopsy.

"With the formation of ImmusanT in Cambridge, we will have broad access to resources, capital and potential partners required to advance development of Nexvax2 and our companion diagnostics," said Leslie J. Williams, founder, president and chief executive officer of ImmusanT, Inc. "ImmusanT's near-term opportunity is to provi
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SOURCE ImmusanT, Inc.
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