South Korean biotech ImmuneMed is tapping Lonza’s protein services operation to carry out in silico screening and deimmunization of virus suppressing factor (VSF), ImmuneMed’s antiviral candidate in development for the treatment of infections including encephalomyocarditis, influenza, and hepatitis. Lonza will carry out preclinical immunogenicity risk assessment using its T-cell epitope prediction engine, Epibase™, at its protein services and development facility in Cambridge, U.K. Data generated from screening will then be used to demmunize the humanized VSF.
Offered through Lonza’s immunogenicity services, Epibase is designed to predict and compare the immunogenicity risk potential of protein leads based on T-cell epitope content. Lonza claims the latest Epibase v.3 in silico screening platform incorporates up-to-date binding affinities of peptides to the HLA receptor, and 3-D structures of HLA receptor.
ImmuneMed’s lead antiviral product VSF is based on a naturally produced protein that the firm claims shows much more potent antiviral activity than other antiviral cytokines such as interferon. The product triggers innate antiviral responses, and so could potentially be effective against a range of viruses. As a naturally produced product, VSF is not associated with resistance issues, and doesn’t generate side effects, the firm adds.
Clinical trials with VSF are expected to start in Korea in 2013, in partnership with the Seoul National University, Korea University, and Hallym University Medical Schools. Clinical development in the U.S. could potentially be initiated from 2014.