Company will provide Affitome technology for generating synthetic B-cell epitope antigen mimics.

Austrian firm AFFiRiS will act as the industrial partner for the newly established Christian-Doppler-Laboratory for Cardiometabolic Immunotherapy (CD-Laboratory), which is working with the Medical University of Vienna on basic research to facilitate the development of a vaccine against type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

The CD-Laboratory’s research will focus initially on investigating chronic inflammatory processes of adipose tissue and the cardiovascular system, and will be supported by both public funding and an investment by AFFiRiS. As part of its involvement in the program, AFFiRiS will provide the laboratory with its Affitome® platform for active immunization, which to date the firm has been exploiting primarily in the field of neurodegenerative diseases.  

“There is increasing evidence that some of the body’s own structures are involved in the cause of inflammatory reactions of the adipose tissue,” comments Günther Staffler, head of immunology at AFFiRiS. “The underlying fundamental inflammatory mechanisms will now be investigated at the CD-Laboratory. It will also be explored, whether and how an active immunization approach based on our Affitome platform technology can unfold its therapeutic efficacy/impact.”

AFFiRiS is exploiting its Affitome technology for the development of synthetic vaccines, primarily against neurodegenerative diseases. The molecular mimicry technology is used to design short peptides that mimic the native antigen and act as B-cell epitopes capable of triggering antibody immune responses. The firm claims that in comparison with vaccines based on native antigens, Affitome-based candidates can be fine-tuned to maximize specificity of the immune response, and because the antigen is immunologically foreign, there is no need to break tolerance.

AFFiRiS’ pipeline includes three early clinical-stage candidates against Alzheimer disease (AD), and preclinical-stage candidates against atherosclerosis, Parkinson disease (PD), and hypertension. The PD vaccine program is partly funded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Lead AD candidate, AD02, is partnered with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and is currently undergoing Phase II evaluation in 420 patients.

In March AFFiRiS said data from a Phase I study with AD02 provided an early indication of efficacy. Nine of the 12 patients treated using an adjuvanted AD02 formulation demonstrated stabilization of cognitive parameters over the 18 month observation period, the firm reported. Additional immunological data further supported a potential correlation between post-vaccination antibody levels and cognitive function. 

A second AD vaccine candidate, AD01, has also successfully completed a Phase I study, while a third, AD03, has completed preclinical development. In February GSK exercised its option to license two additional AD vaccine candidates, including AD03, following the completion of preclinical development.

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