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Mar 31, 2014
 |  BioCentury  |  Emerging Company Profile

ImmuSmol: Going small

ImmuSmol's antibodies target metabolites involved in tumor immune evasion

Cancer cells can evade host immunity by up-regulating enzymes that produce small molecule metabolites capable of blocking T cells in the tumor microenvironment. ImmuSmol S.A.S.'s antibodies target the metabolites to restore the immune response to tumors while sidestepping problems associated with inhibiting the enzymes themselves.

Antibodies against small molecules were first developed in the 1940s, when researchers at the University of Vienna discovered that conjugating a small molecule target to a protein carrier could elicit antibodies against that target in vivo. While such antibodies found use as immunohistochemical research tools, they have not been widely harnessed therapeutically because of technical challenges in constructing the appropriate target-carrier conjugates, ImmuSmol CEO Alban Bessede told BioCentury.

"The target molecule, which is covalently linked to the protein carrier, must be presented to the immune system in a way that elicits antibodies with high affinity and specificity for the target," he said. "The conjugation strategy is critical because it must not alter the physical and chemical properties of the small molecule and it must expose a...

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