Scratching out allergies

Advaxis, Karolinska Institutet conduct research in allergic diseases

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PRINCETON, N.J.—Advaxis, a developer of immunotherapies forcancer and infectious diseases, has forged a collaboration with the KarolinskaInstitutet (KI) to evaluate the potential of Advaxis immunotherapies to treatand prevent allergies in established scientific models of allergic diseases.
Advaxis will be working with Dr. Marianne van Hage, researchgroup leader and head of the Clinical Immunology and Allergy Unit and vice headof the Department of Medicine at the KI in Stockholm, Sweden.
According to van Hage, the goal of the collaboration is todevelop an efficient and safe vaccine for cat allergy. At the KI, van Hage'sresearch focuses on further understanding the molecular mechanisms ofunderlying allergic disease and the function of allergens and developing newdiagnostic markers and new strategies for vaccination. Her work using catallergy as a model system has resulted in insights and understanding to developtreatments and prevention options for allergic responses.
Van Hage's research is performed in an integrated basic andclinical scientific environment with successful collaboration withwell-established national and international groups in the field of molecularbiology, cell biology, biochemistry, immunohistochemistry, epidemiology andgenetics. Her investigations are primarily oriented toward elucidation ofmolecular mechanisms of allergic inflammation, to new diagnostic andtherapeutic strategies for allergic disease, and covers basic as well asclinical allergy research.
Work under the partnership is already underway, according tovan Hage.
"We have received proprietary materials (Lm-LLO technology)from Advaxis, and we are currently preparing materials to be used in ourresearch models," she says. 
Advaxis has been developing vaccines for cancer. Itsimmunotherapies are based on a novel platform technology that utilizes live,attenuated Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) bio-engineered to secrete anantigen/adjuvant fusion (Lm-LLO) protein. Lm-LLO is designed to stimulate apowerful immune response not only to Lm, which is inherent in humans, but alsoto redirect the response to the target antigens.
Van Hage says the opportunity to use the Lm-LLO technologyis a significant step forward in the research.
"If we can show that the cat allergy Lm-vaccine hasbeneficial effects on the allergic inflammation in our mouse model of catallergy, this would be a great success," she says.
According to Dr. John Rothman, executive vice president ofscience and operations at Advaxis, the KI proved to be an attractive partnerfor the collaboration because it is a leader in academic medical researchinstruction.
In particular, the work of van Hage "in the laboratory andclinic in the testing and development of agents for the treatment of allergiesin her model offers Advaxis the opportunity to assess our technology in asystem of recognized excellence, with an opinion leader in the field and at atop institution," Rothman says.
The collaboration is strictly an academic partnership inwhich Advaxis provides its proprietary technology in the form of live,attenuated strains of listeria for human use and expertise in the construction,testing, validation and use of these agents.
"Human testing would also result in information regardingthe effects of Lm-LLO agents and their mechanisms in humans, which would beused to improve the technology and develop additional agents that incorporatethe lessons learned from this project," Rothman says. 
According to van Hage, developing an efficient and safevaccine for cat allergy could lead to other allergy treatments in the future,and the collaborators have a preliminary timeline for the project.

"Currently, we have no deviations from the research plan, and we estimate tohave our first results within this year," she says.
Rothman notes that in addition to cat allergies, long-termsuccess of the effort could lead to work with obvious candidates that includebee sting, peanut and other life-threatening allergies.
If successful, this work will open the door for Advaxis topursue allergic medical indications in the manner in which it currently ispursuing immunotherapy for cancer and infectious diseases.

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