The antibodies will be targeting interferon-alpha (INF-α), a protein needed for immune responses against invading pathogens. Interferon alpha is produced at high levels in patients with autoimmune diseases, and is thought to participate in the over-activation of the immune system.
A strategy for treating patients who do not respond to existing therapies could be in the blocking of INF-α.
Antibodies derived from humans are better therapies than those from other species due to their excellent safety and efficacy profiles.
Therefore, ImmunoQure has been trying to develop a human-derived antibody against interferon, for treating patients with autoimmune diseases like lupus and Sjögren’s syndrome.
Fortunately, they found that patients with a rare disorder, called APS-1, develop antibodies against multiple proteins in the body, including INF-α. Their findings were recently published in an article in the journal Cell.
Because these antibodies were originally isolated from humans, they represent fast-track, safe, and effective treatment candidates.
“We are very excited to advance our autoantibody into the clinic with Servier,” Adrian Hayday, PhD, co-founder of ImmunoQure, said in a press release. “This is the next stage of our scientific strategy, for which Servier is an ideal partner, having demonstrated their expertise in developing high-potential therapeutics for the treatment of inflammatory diseases.”
The companies will now jointly develop a high-affinity autoantibody through preclinical studies. After establishing its effectiveness, Servier will assume all responsibilities for its clinical development.
“Our collaboration with ImmunoQure allows us to target a major pathway of inflammation. The ultimate goal is to significantly improve the management of patients who suffer from autoimmune diseases and who do not respond, even partially, to existing therapies,” said Claude Bertrand, general director of research and development at Servier.
Edward Stuart, PhD, co-founder and chairman of the board of ImmunoQure, said the industry is facing several “pressing issues, including the need for novel, innovative and safe drug candidates to fill pipelines.
“Our scientific and business approach provides one solution to such issues,” Stuart said. “Together with our partner Servier and our academic partners such as the King’s College London, and the Universities of Helsinki and Tartu, we are ideally positioned to bring ImmunoQure’s outstanding science forward.”