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GEN News Highlights : Feb 12, 2013

Novozymes and EpiVax Team Up to Fight Autoimmune Diseases

Novozymes Biopharma entered into a collaborative research agreement with EpiVax to help further the development of new methods for treating autoimmune diseases. The research agreement will involve linking EpiVax’ Tregitope (T regulatory epitopes) immune-modulating therapy for the treatment of type 1 diabetes, to Novozymes’ Albufuse® half-life extension platform, helping to enhance its pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties. As a result, it will be possible to modulate half-life of the therapy to offer improved control, enhancing the overall efficacy of treatment, according to officials at both firms.

“The two technologies jointly have a role to play in a range of treatments for autoimmune diseases,” said Dave Mead, business development director at Novozymes Biopharma.

EpiVax has identified a set of natural Tregitopes derived from Immunoglobulin G (IgG) that induce tolerance to immunogenic proteins. Preliminary studies in the area of type 1 diabetes have indicated that Tregitopes specifically induce natural Tregs and, when co-administered with an antigen, lead to the expansion of antigen-specific regulatory T cells. Modulation of autoimmune responses to autologous epitopes by induction of antigen-specific tolerance may prevent ongoing beta-cell destruction and restore the production of insulin, explained Annie DeGroot, Ph.D., CEO and CSO at EpiVax, adding that combining EpiVax’ therapy with Novozymes’ Albufuse technology will “create a safe and effective platform for application of Tregitopes to multiple autoimmunity, transplantation, and allergy conditions.”

Mead maintains that Novozymes’ albumin-based technology offers significant benefits for delivery of a range of molecules as it has the potential to tailor half-life according to specific medical requirements. “Albumin’s proven safety, regulatory profile, and long history of therapeutic use makes it an ideal choice for drug delivery. The broadly applicable platform has an established regulatory pathway enabling products to reach the market more efficiently and cost effectively. In addition, the technology can be used to reduce dose rates and side effects, while improving patient quality of life. These innovations pave the way for flexibility and efficiency for manufacturers developing novel therapies,” he said.