Keith Martin, Apitope chief executive, said the phase two trial of ATX-MS-1467 would start this year with about 80 patients in south-west England and last about two years. A diagnostic blood test for MS is also being developed.
Apitope’s approach is based on 20 years of research by David Wraith, professor of experimental pathology at Bristol University. The vaccine works by retuning the immune system so it no longer overreacts to patients’ own myelin protein.
Prof Wraith said this approach was more specific – and likely to carry fewer side-effects – than existing MS drugs that suppressed the immune system or reduced nerve inflammation.
The company, initially, is testing the safety and efficacy of ApitopesTM in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. Its lead product is ATX-MS-1467, a peptide vaccine, which up regulates T cells through the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II receptor. The vaccine is potentially a disease-modifying therapy specifically designed from a naturally occurring antigenic protein to selectively inhibit the immune system's harmful attack on the nervous system. The normal immune response to infection is preserved. The ATX-MS-1467 vaccine is an equal parts mixture of four soluble, synthetic peptides (ApitopesTM). The company plans to develop ApitopesTM for other chronic diseases including Type I diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and the common allergies.
The unique Apitope peptides function as tolerogens, exerting their therapeutic effect via an highly selective immune re-balancing process that, in pre-clinical studies, has been linked to the induction of IL-10 secreting regulatory T cells.
A peptide which is capable of binding to an MHC class I or class II molecule without further processing and is selected from the following myelin basic protein peptides: 134-148, 135-149, 136-150, 137-151, 138-152 and 140-154. The peptide can be used in the manufacture of a medicament for the prevention or treatment of multiple sclerosis.
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