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12:00 AM
 | 
Mar 26, 2012
 |  BioCentury  |  Emerging Company Profile

ImmusanT: Having their cake

ImmusanT's vaccine could allow celiac patients to eat normally

ImmusanT Inc. is developing what could be the first treatment for celiac disease that allows patients to eat a normal diet. The company's Nexvax2 vaccine seeks to reprogram CD4+ T cells to induce gluten tolerance.

The biotech also is developing a blood-based companion diagnostic. Both programs were acquired from Nexpep Pty. Ltd., which is now a shell company.

Celiac disease is an immune-mediated disorder triggered by consumption of foods containing gluten, which is broken into immunogenic peptides that are allowed to pass through the intestinal epithelium.

The peptides are taken up by antigen-presenting cells (APCs) and presented to CD4+ T cells, which in turn secrete proinflammatory cytokines and trigger a B cell response to produce antibodies against the peptides.

Other than a gluten-free diet, no treatment exists for the disease, which is characterized by severe intestinal damage, nutrient malabsorption, diarrhea, fatigue and weight loss. It is very difficult to eliminate all gluten consumption, and accidental ingestion of even trace amounts can result in acute attacks.

Nexvax2 is an intradermal vaccine that combines a 15-16 amino...

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