Repertoire® Immune Medicines Enters Research Collaboration With UMass Chan Medical School to Identify the Underlying Immune Causes of Vitiligo
Research collaboration will utilize Repertoire’s DECODE™ platform to identify specific T cell receptors and antigens causing onset and progression of autoimmune disease vitiligo, with goal of developing targeted immunotherapy
Excerpt from the Press Release:
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Repertoire Immune Medicines, Inc. today announced it has entered a sponsored research agreement with UMass Chan Medical School (UMass Chan) to identify the specific T cell and antigen pairs involved in causing the onset and progression of the autoimmune disease vitiligo. The potential discovery of these immunogenic drivers of vitiligo could be used to develop antigen-specific therapeutic candidates for this disease.
The research team at UMass Chan will be led by John E. Harris, M.D., Ph.D., Chair and Professor of Dermatology and Director of the Vitiligo Clinic and Research Center.
“In autoimmune diseases, the best therapeutic options typically act broadly to suppress the immune system, which can lead to other complications for patients. One of the challenges to discovering new treatment options for vitiligo is the significant complexity of the immune system,” said Dr. Harris. “We understand the role of the T cell but have not been able to identify the specific codes directing their function. The opportunity to combine our expertise in vitiligo with Repertoire’s DECODE™ technology means that, for the first time, we may be able to advance from translational insight to novel, antigen-specific therapies.”
Vitiligo is a chronic autoimmune disease in which CD8+ T cells kill melanin-producing cells, leading to the loss of skin pigmentation. In autoimmune diseases like vitiligo, the immune system directs T cells to target and damage healthy cells. It is unknown exactly why this occurs, but it is understood that the immune system activates T cells through codes communicated by antigens that direct T cell activity. If the codes directing the CD8+ T cells can be identified, then it may be possible to develop an immunotherapy that targets these cells and prevents them from killing healthy cells.
“The deep expertise and clinical experience that the UMass Chan team has in the field of vitiligo makes this an ideal partnership for Repertoire. We will be able to apply the proprietary technology in our DECODE platform to assess and potentially identify the key drivers of the dysregulated immune response underlying this autoimmune disease, specifically the T cells and the antigens that activate them,” said Anthony Coyle, Ph.D., President, Research and Development, Repertoire Immune Medicines. “Repertoire’s DECODE technology also provides us with the potential to design targeted immunotherapies for vitiligo.”
About the DECODE™ Platform
The DECODE platform is a powerful discovery engine that characterizes essential elements of the immune synapse. In particular, the platform identifies T cell receptor-antigen pairs in the context of other important features of the immune synapse, such as T cell function and how these antigens are presented by molecules on antigen-presenting cells, known as major human leukocyte antigen, or HLA, molecules. Repertoire intends to utilize these insights into key drivers that govern immune function to design and develop novel immune product candidates.
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