Scancell Holdings said today it will partner with the Rheumatology Unit at Karolinska Institutet to explore further the scientific and clinical role of citrullinated proteins in the treatment of cancer. The value of the strategic research collaboration was not disclosed.

Scancell’s Moditope® cancer immunotherapy platform technology will be used by research teams led by professors Lars Klareskog, M.D., Ph.D., and Vivianne Malmström, Ph.D., at Karolinska’s Rheumatology Unit.

The teams have uncovered a central role for citrullinated proteins in the development of rheumatoid arthritis, and Scancell has found citrullinated proteins to be potential targets on cancer cells, underpinning the use of citrullinated peptides in the Moditope platform.

Moditope is designed to work by overcoming the immune suppression induced by tumors themselves, allowing activated T cells to seek out and kill tumor cells that would otherwise be hidden from the immune system.

According to Scancell, this is achieved by stimulating the production of CD4+ T cells using citrullinated tumor-associated peptide epitopes, which overcome self-tolerance and destroy tumor cells.

“We believe that this strategic collaboration with Karolinska will enhance our joint understanding of the role that citrullination plays in both cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, and will help us develop the Moditope platform to its full potential,” Professor Lindy Durrant, Ph.D., Joint CEO of Scancell and professor of cancer immunotherapy at Nottingham University, said in a statement.