Apitope, the drug discovery and development company focused on treating the underlying cause of autoimmune diseases, today announces that the consortium, led by Apitope, which includes GSK Vaccines, Quintiles and KWS Biotest Limited, has been awarded prestigious Framework Programme 7 (FP7) Health Innovation funding by the European Commission to develop its Graves' disease therapeutic vaccine, including a Phase I first-in-man study in Graves' disease patients.
Graves' disease is an immune system disorder that eventually results in the overproduction of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism). While a number of disorders may result in hyperthyroidism, Graves' disease is the most common cause affecting 2% of the female population. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism can include increased heart rate, muscle weakness, disturbed sleep, and irritability. Patients may also develop bulging eyes (proptosis). The disease affects multiple systems of the body, including the skin, heart, circulation and nervous system.
Apitope's antigen-specific disease modifying peptide therapy uses epitopes designed to shut down the abnormal immune responses to the causative agent in a highly selective manner, re-instating the normal immune balance, thereby avoiding global immune suppression. As a result, the peptides taken into clinical evaluation by Apitope offer the potential to have limited side effects and a good probability of efficacy.
Dr. Keith Martin, CEO of Apitope stated: "Graves' Disease is a disease with serious implications particularly for those with Graves' orbitopathy who are at risk of blindness. Current treatments for this disease may result in abnormally low thyroid activity levels, requiring further medications, and do not treat the fundamental cause of Graves' disease nor reduce the long term cardiac risks. This funding will allow a team of experts to develop a much needed therapy that may address the cause of this serious condition rather than simply treating the symptoms and removing the need for other medications."
Professor Neil Williams, CSO of KWS BioTest said: "This is a really exciting approach to the treatment of an important human disease, which builds on the successes that Apitope has seen in its MS programme. We are looking forward to applying our expertise in the preclinical immunology and inflammation areas to help drive the project forwards into the clinic. The award of the EU grant helps to cement the close drug discovery partnership in the consortium."