EpiVax’ compound focuses on natural regulatory T cells, while Osiris’ product is designed to preserve and regenerate insulin-producing cells.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) reports that it will support two firms’ drug development efforts. EpiVax received $351,000 to advance its preclinical-stage therapy, while the JDRF will back Osiris Therapeutics’ Phase II trial.

“As antigen-specific tolerance continues to be a major goal area in autoimmunity for JDRF, the proposal from EpiVax presents a novel approach that could potentially generate or restore immune regulation in type 1 diabetes,” notes Teodora Staeva-Vieira, Ph.D., director of the autoimmunity program at JDRF. 

EpiVax explains that its approach, called antigen-specific adaptive tolerance induction (ASATI™) specifically targets and reduces undesirable immune responses. Because ASATI uses the body’s natural responses, this intervention has the potential to be far safer than immunosuppressive drugs that are now being studied, the company continues. 

The JDRF backing will help provide a first proof-of-principle for Epi-13, which focuses on the natural regulatory T cells and their protective role in a diabetes patient. EpiVax anticipates that it will show that the drug reduces harmful immune responses to insulin-producing cells, preserving the body’s ability to make insulin.

Osiris Therapeutics’ Prochymal, on the other hand, is an immunomodulatory cell therapy that preserves and regenerates insulin-producing cells in patients newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.   “Prochymal has shown promise as a therapy for severe immune mediated conditions including Crohn’s disease and  graft-vs-host disease,” notes C. Randal Mills, Ph.D., president and CEO of Osiris Therapeutics.

“Now that the product has advanced to the final stages of clinical trials, it is appropriate to evaluate related conditions such as type 1 diabetes.”

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