PROVIDENCE, R.I., Nov. 16, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Full Article Here
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Providence-based biotech company EpiVax, Inc. was awarded a new $55,000 grant from the GBS-CIDP Foundation International, to explore using Tregitopes as a novel immuno-modulator therapy for a nerve disease that is currently treated with intravenous immunoglobulin G (IVIG). This award and the recent addition of an SBIR grant for $600,000 to explore the use of Tregitope for Pompe disease (August 2012) will bring the total amount of funding awarded to EpiVax for research and development of Tregitopes to $3.4M in 2012. The surge in funding will result in expansion at the Providence-based biotech company, that is working on spinning off the Tregitope technology into a new venture or angel-backed company.
The GBS-CIDP Foundation research funds will be devoted to developing a safer, more effective replacement for IVIG in the treatment of patients with CIDP (Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy). CIDP patients develop a debilitating nerve condition that requires treatment with IVIG. A single dose of IVIG costs $8,000, and patients often spend tens of thousands of dollars obtaining treatment per year. Alternative treatments that might redirect the immune response toward antigen-specific tolerance without immunosuppressive agents are needed.
The company has been extremely successful in SBIR funding for the Tregitope endeavor despite the constrained funding environment. SBIR grants awarded to EpiVax this year include a Phase I for testing the ability for Tregitopes to reduce inhibitors to FVIII, a separate Phase I SBIR for testing the ability of Tregitopes to reduce immune responses to GAA, a protein that is deficient in Pompe's disease, and a Phase II award to perform safety, toxicity and formulation studies on Tregitopes in the NOD model of Type 1 Diabetes.
Tregitopes are linear sequences of peptides contained within the framework of monoclonal antibodies and immunoglobulin-G ,which activate natural regulatory T cells. Tregitopes act as a natural 'off switch' and have been shown in standard preclinical models, and by collaborating laboratories, to suppress and treat autoimmune disease, allergies, and to effectively suppress the immunogenicity of co-administered proteins. This is a natural mechanism for suppressing tissue-destroying immune cells that are the root cause of 'organ-specific autoimmune diseases', in addition, modifying immune responses to biotherapeutics (such as FVIII and other biologics).
Tregitopes were discovered by the team of Anne S. De Groot and Bill Martin at EpiVax.
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SOURCE EpiVax, Inc.