National Institutes of Health (NIH) Awards $6.4 Million to Professor Mark Larche to Investigate Mechanisms of Allergy Tolerance Generated by Circassia Limited's ToleroMune® Treatment

Published: Jun 07, 2012

OXFORD, UK – 7 June 2012 – Circassia Ltd, a specialty biopharmaceutical company focused on allergy, today announced that the United States’ National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a $6.4 million grant to Professor Mark Larché of McMaster University, Canada, to study mechanisms of tolerance developed by patients treated with Circassia’s Toleromune® allergy therapy. The award will fund a prospective clinical trial to investigate the frequency and function of allergen- specific T cells generated by the ToleroMune treatment. In addition, the funding will support a clinical study in asthmatic allergy patients to examine specific T cell responses following exposure to allergens. The grant will also fund in vitro studies using samples taken from the clinical trial subjects, and preclinical research into immune processes associated with allergy-related asthma and the effect of the T-cell vaccine treatment.

Commenting on the award, Professor Mark Larché, Canada Research Chair in Allergy and Immune Tolerance, McMaster University, said, “This NIH funding will greatly enhance our understanding of the mechanisms responsible for immune tolerance generated by peptide allergy therapy, and the allergy-related processes associated with asthma. Research into the role of allergen specific T-cells has been limited to date, and these new studies should significantly increase our knowledge of the processes involved in allergy, and assist in the development of effective new treatments.”

“We welcome this support for Professor Larché’s important work in immune tolerance, and are delighted this funding will further scientific understanding of the mechanisms involved in desensitising allergy patients with our T-cell vaccine technology,” said Steve Harris, Circassia’s CEO. “We have completed several successful clinical studies demonstrating the potential of our ToleroMune therapies to improve patients’ allergy symptoms, and we now look forward to the results of McMaster University’s investigations into the specific immune processes involved.”

About Circassia’s allergy T-cell vaccines

Circassia is developing a range of allergy treatments based on its proprietary ToleroMune® technology. This uses small sections of allergens (epitopes) to generate regulatory T cells that suppress allergic responses and create immune tolerance in patients. The company has successfully completed a number of phase II studies with its cat, house dust mite, ragweed and grass allergy therapies. Clinical results show that short treatment regimes with Circassia’s T-cell vaccines can greatly reduce patients’ allergic responses, without the need for adjuvants or other immune stimulators, while proving extremely well tolerated. As a result, the treatments offer major potential clinical benefits compared with existing therapies, and have significant market opportunities. More than 150 million people suffer from allergic rhinitis in the US and Europe, and the current treatment market is valued at approximately $12 billion per year.

About Circassia

Circassia was founded in 2006 by a team of highly experienced biotechnology scientists and entrepreneurs, and is chaired by the former Chairman of GlaxoSmithKline, Sir Richard Sykes. The company is based in the UK on the Oxford Science Park, and its joint venture with McMaster University (Adiga Life Sciences Inc) is located in Hamilton, Canada. Circassia’s ToleroMune technology was developed originally by scientists at Imperial College, London. Having successfully completed five fundraising rounds, Circassia has raised approximately £105 million ($178 million) and is backed by a syndicate of world-class institutional investors, including Imperial Innovations and Invesco Perpetual.


Steve Harris



Tel: +44 (0)1865 784574

Rob Budge

RJB Communications

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