Novozymes, EpiVax join forces

Partners to combine technologies in pursuit of a new treatment approach for autoimmune diseases

Kelsey Kaustinen
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NOTTINGHAM, United Kingdom—Novozymes Biopharma, part ofNovozymes A/S, has announced the establishment of a collaborative researchagreement with EpiVax, Inc., a biotech company based in Providence, R.I., toadvance the development of a new treatment for autoimmune diseases. Thepartners will work to link EpiVax's proprietary Tregitope (T regulatoryepitopes), an immune-modulating therapy for the treatment of Type 1 diabetes,with Novozymes' Albufuse half-life extension platform, which will help to enhancethe pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of the treatment. The goalis to modulate the half-life of the treatment to gain improved control forincreased overall efficacy. No financial details for the deal were disclosed.
"Novozymes' proven solutions, technical expertise andreputation as a reliable partner makes it the ideal company for us to work withas we move our Tregitope immune-modulating technology closer to clinicaltrials," Dr. Annie De Groot, chief scientific officer and CEO at EpiVax, saidin a press release regarding the agreement. "By bringing together our uniqueknowledge and experience in our respective fields, we look to develop anindustry-changing technology that will make significant advancements intreating patients with autoimmune diseases."
Tregitopes, according to an EpiVax press release, are"linear sequences of amino acids contained within the framework of monoclonalantibodies and immunoglobulin G." The technology is capable of activatingnatural regulatory T cells to modulate unwanted immune responses, andpreliminary studies have shown Tregitopes to have potential in generatingtolerance to protein drugs, blood replacement therapies and transplants, andfor treating allergies. When Tregitopes are co-administered with an antigen,they lead to the expansion of antigen-specific regulatory T cells. It isbelieved that modulating autoimmune responses to autologous epitopes byinducing antigen-specific tolerance can offer a new approach in diabetestreatment by preventing beta-cell destruction.
"Developing more specific therapies to promote tolerance …is a critical component of a comprehensive approach to T1D," Julia L.Greenstein, Ph.D., vice president of Cure Therapies for the Juvenile DiabetesResearch Foundation. "[Tregitopes] may have the potential to reduce the harmfulimmune responses to the insulin-producing beta cells, thereby preserving thebody's ability to make its own insulin."
On the other side of the partnership, Novozymes'albumin-based technology offers the ability to adjust the half-life of avariety of molecules, and combined with its proven safety, regulatorybackground and established therapeutic use, it is a highly effective mode ofdrug delivery.
"Novozymes is delighted to announce a research agreementwith EpiVax in the key area of autoimmune diseases treatment," Dave Mead,business development director at Novozymes Biopharma, noted in a statement."The two technologies jointly have a role to play in a wide range of treatmentsfor autoimmune diseases. By taking EpiVax's pioneering therapy and combining itwith Novozymes' versatile and clinically demonstrated Albufuse technology,along with the unparalleled expertise of our R&D scientists, we will worktogether to move the treatment to the next stage in its development."
SOURCE: Novozymes press release

Kelsey Kaustinen

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