ALR Funding to Support Antibody Research
Durham, NC– Feb. 2, 2005 – The Alliance for Lupus Research (ALR) has awarded a $1 million grant to Argos Therapeutics for development of a therapeutic antibody product for systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE) based on research conducted at Baylor Institute for Immunology Research. A pioneer in immunotherapy, Argos uses its expertise in dendritic cell biology to develop therapeutic vaccines in the areas of cancer, infectious diseases, autoimmune disorders and transplantation.
“Receiving this grant is a major accomplishment and validation of previous ALR-funded studies co-funded by Argos and led by Dr. Jacques Banchereau, who is the director of the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research,” said Clint Dederick, Jr., chairman and CEO of Argos Therapeutics. “We greatly appreciate ALR’s financial support as it will help provide the resources to take our work to the next level – focusing on humanization of the antibody and manufacture of clinical-grade material to be used in a clinical trial planned for next year.”
The Alliance for Lupus Research is a leading source of private funding for lupus research and one hundred percent of funds raised are directed to peer-reviewed research and scientific programs. Since its inception in 1999, ALR has committed more than $30 million to lupus research, and has made remarkable gains toward unlocking the mysteries of this disease.
Commonly called lupus, SLE is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the body’s own tissue and organs, including joints, kidneys, heart, lungs and brain. Lupus, particularly in children, can be an aggressive disease and treatment options with fewer side effects are urgently needed.
According to Charles Nicolette, Ph.D., Principal Investigator for the project and Vice President of Research and Development for Argos, previous ALR-funded studies co-funded by Argos and led by Dr. Banchereau, provide strong evidence that a protein called interferon-alpha (IFN-a) contributes to immune system abnormalities in adults and children with lupus. To translate this discovery into a useful product, antibodies have been generated in mice that bind to and neutralize the biologic activity of human IFN- a found in the blood of lupus patients. This mouse antibody will be ‘humanized’ for clinical testing in lupus patients.
“Lupus represents an unmet medical need as no new therapies for SLE have been approved by the FDA in over 40 years. Patients are treated with a variety of drugs that provide only partial benefits and can have damaging side effects that limit their use, including bone thinning, weight gain, acne, anemia, sterility, rashes diarrhea, hair loss and nausea,” said Nicolette. “To the best of our knowledge, the antibody product we are developing for clinical testing is the only IFN-a neutralizing antibody shown to block the biologic activity in the blood of lupus patients.”
According to ALR, as many as one million or more persons suffer from lupus. Currently, treatment options for SLE patients include corticosteroids, nonsteroidal immune suppressants, antimalarials, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
“Our goal is to determine if blocking IFN-a activity in lupus patients will provide a more specific and effective therapy in both young people and adults,” said Dr. Banchereau. “Other experimental treatments for lupus that are currently being developed by others are designed to treat various symptoms/defects observed in lupus patients. Our research suggests that the root cause of the disease, which results in the multitude of diverse clinical symptoms that characterize SLE, is interferon-a. We believe that attacking the disease at its source will result in a more effective and targeted treatment option.”
Baylor Institute for Immunology Research
Baylor Institute for Immunology Research is a scientific and laboratory structure devoted to design and testing of novel vaccine strategies. It is a component of Baylor Research Institute, an affiliate of Baylor Health Care System. For more information visit www.baylorhealth.com
Argos Therapeutics, Inc., formerly Merix Bioscience, is dedicated to becoming a market leader in the field of immunotherapy. By using proprietary technology and proven therapeutic methods and expertise in dendritic cell biology, Argos is developing the next generation of therapies in the areas of oncology, infectious diseases, autoimmune disorders and transplantation. Our focus is bringing to market therapeutic options that not only offer new promise for treatment of intractable diseases, but also an improved safety profile and better patient quality of life during treatment. Please visit us at www.argostherapeutics.com
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