Apitope develops potential first-in-class antigen-specific immunotherapies targeting the immunological basis of autoimmune diseases.
The human immune system has evolved to recognise and destroy potentially harmful substances, protecting the body from cancers and infections in healthy individuals. The immune system recognises antigens, which are substances that induce an immune response in the body. These antigens can be exogenous antigens derived from foreign sources (such as pollen, food, viruses or bacteria) or endogenous antigens (self-antigens), which are produced by the body (such as human protein).
To function effectively, the immune system must discern between harmful antigens and innocuous antigens. The immune system maintains a delicate balance between effector cells, which mount immune responses to antigens that represent potential threats, and regulatory cells, which mitigate undesired and potentially harmful immune responses through suppressive mechanisms. Depending upon the characteristics of the antigen and the context in which the antigen is encountered, the immune system must determine whether to mount an aggressive (effector) or regulatory (tolerogenic) immune response.
Apitopes® treat autoimmune diseases (and treat and prevent other undesired immune responses) at the earliest possible moment in the inflammatory immune response to prevent further damage to the body. Apitopes® are designed to mimic naturally processed epitopes to restore the immune system's natural balance (i.e. tolerance to a self-antigen). While current therapies for autoimmune diseases typically have the effect of suppressing the immune system, apitopes® modulate only the malfunctioning part of the immune system in order to avoid such global immune suppression.
Apitopes® can be selected for the treatment of any autoimmune or allergic disorder, as well as other undesired immune responses (anti-drug antibodies) against biologic (protein) therapeutics. Apitope is able to select and develop apitopes® using its patented and cost-efficient discovery platform that enables the continuous selection of peptides that are likely to be safe and well tolerated.
The inflammatory immune response is triggered by activation of Th cells
Recognition of MHC II with co-stimulation induces active immune responses
The goal of Apitope's antigen-specific immunotherapy is to direct apitopes® to antigen presenting cells (“APCs”), which in the absence of a self -antigen to be processed, results in the expression of low levels of co-stimulatory molecules ("tolerogenic APCs"). When the T cell binds to the apitope® presented by the APC and encounters insufficient levels of co-stimulatory molecules, the effect is to kill or switch off the T cell or convert the T cell into a regulatory cell (a "Treg cell") thereby (i) resulting in the absence or suppression of an aggressive immune response to the self-antigen and (ii) preventing other immune cells from attacking the antigen of interest.