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Outwitting immunity to treat disease: Start-up raises 37 millions dollars
Date:5/5/2014

in PNAS and received an enormous amount of attention.

"The technology delivers proteins, be they autoimmune antigens or protein drugs, in a manner that re-trains the immune system to accept them as the body's own," explains Hubbell "We are delighted that leading biotech venture funds have recognized the value of our approach, providing the necessary financial means to move forward."

Anokion's mission is to commercialize this discovery so that it can move out of the lab and into use as a treatment for disease. For now, the researchers are concentrating on a specific kind of white blood cell, T lymphocytes, that are implicated in many autoimmune and allergic diseases, including multiple sclerosis and type I diabetes.

The technology has a far wider potential, however. Protein drugs are used to treat diseases such as cancer and a number of genetic diseases such as hemophilia. Despite their effectiveness in treating these diseases, the body frequently recognizes these proteins as foreign and mounts an immune response against them, sometimes even after one or a few doses. After this, the body neutralizes the protein drugs that have been developed to heal it.

Using Anokion's technique, the drug could be administered over a much longer period by teaching the immune system to leave it alone. Multiple therapeutic molecules that trigger immune reactions have been withdrawn after clinical trials due to these immunogenicity challenges. The researchers think that many of these could be rehabilitated if the immune response of the T-cells during treatment could be controlled.

Anokion is planning clinical trials for 2017. They will initially test their technology in conjunction with a drug known to trigger strong immune reactions before moving on to autoimmune diseases.


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Contact: Lionel Pousaz
lionel.pousaz@epfl.ch
41-795-597-161
Ecole Polytechnique Fdrale de Lausanne
Source:Eurekalert

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