October 25, 2007 (Providence, RI)--- EpiVax, Inc, a leader in the field of computational immunology, announced today that it has received funding from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), the worlds largest charitable funder of Type 1 diabetes research, to develop Epi-13, a novel therapeutic for the prevention and treatment of type I diabetes, a devastating and chronic autoimmune disease that affects up to three million Americans today.
JDRF will provide EpiVax $351,000 for one year to provide a first proof-of-principle for the drug that will focus on the natural regulatory T cells and their protective role in the diabetes patient. The studies are anticipated to show that the drug reduces harmful immune responses to insulin-producing cells, preserving the bodys ability to make its own insulin.
JDRFs research funding provides an exciting opportunity to accelerate the proof of concept and commercial development of an immune-based therapy for Type 1 diabetes, said Anne De Groot, M.D., President and CEO of EpiVax. We hope to make it possible for persons living with diabetes to reduce insulin dependence and to live longer with fewer symptoms.
As antigen specific tolerance continues to be a major goal area in Autoimmunity for JDRF, the proposal from EpiVax presents a novel approach that could potentially generate or restore immune regulation in type 1 diabetes, said Teodora Staeva-Vieira, Ph.D., Director of the Autoimmunity Program at JDRF.
JDRF funds diabetes research across a range of scientific areas, including autoimmunity, regeneration, islet cell replacement, complications, and metabolic control. The agreement with EpiVax is a part of JDRFs innovative Industry Discovery and Development Partnership program, through which JDRF partners with pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device businesses who are looking to develop drugs, treatments, technologies, and other therapeutics leading to a cure, reversal, or prevention of type 1 diabetes and its complications.
In most patients with Type 1 diabetes, immune responses to the bodys insulin protein diminish insulin production; thus blood sugar is not properly regulated. The insulin protein can be produced in the laboratory and administered as therapy, but this requires frequent injections for life.
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 bodys 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 will be carried out in collaboration with Dr. David Scott of the University of Maryland and with Robert Smith of the Hallett Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology at Rhode Island Hospital. According to Dr. Smith, an 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.
|Contact: Susan Sherman|
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International