Immune Tolerance, Transforming Immunotherapy
Anokion’s leading platform uses proprietarily engineered antigens that attach to receptors on the liver. While the liver is not always perceived as an immunological organ, in reality, it plays a vital role in immune function and offers an ideal opportunity to promote tolerance mechanisms.
The liver is constantly exposed to different antigens, both harmful and harmless. When an antigen enters the liver, it results in either activation of T-cells or T cell tolerance. The liver’s immunological functions include processing a multitude of foreign, but harmless antigens. The presentation of these antigens causes T-cell inactivation, tolerance, and apoptosis (cell death). Although the liver has T-cells that can initiate an immune response, the organ’s default status is anti-inflammatory and immunotolerant.
Liver Targeting Technology
Anokion’s approach harnesses the liver’s natural tolerance pathway to modulate the harmful inflammatory immune response in antigen-mediated autoimmune diseases. In these diseases, T cells mistakenly attack specific self-antigens as if they were foreign, disease-causing pathogens.
Our engineered proteins are targeted to receptors on liver cells with the goal to educate our immune system to recognize the target antigens, those driving autoimmune disease, as self. This process is what is termed as immune tolerance. Upon subsequent exposure to the antigen, the body no longer mounts an immune response toward whatever tissue expresses the antigen. The administration of our engineered protein is similar in concept to vaccines. Whereas a vaccine teaches the immune system to recognize and target a pathogen, our approach teaches the immune system to recognize and ignore harmless self-cells. At the same time, it leaves the rest of the immune system untouched.
Erythrocyte Binding Technology
Anokion’s other approach uses the natural tolerization mechanisms of red blood cells (erythrocytes). When a cell dies, its contents are processed and removed in manner that induces tolerance. Red blood cells die and are tolerized at rate of about 1 billion cells per day. Using a non-cellular method, our engineered proteins are injected into the bloodstream where they attach to circulating red blood cells. As the red blood cells undergo natural cell death and tolerization, so do our engineered proteins.
Like the proteins that target liver cells, these engineered red blood cell proteins teach the immune system to recognize problematic antigens as a self-antigens upon initial and subsequent exposures. And like the liver targeting technology, this technology leaves the rest of immune system fully functional.
Our antigen-specific platform for the both approaches, have the potential for widespread clinical applications, including treatment of multiple sclerosis, and virtually any antigen-mediated disease.
A traditional vaccine works by educating the immune system to recognize to a specific foreign antigen. Upon subsequent exposure to the antigen, the immune system will initiate an inflammatory respond to fight the harmful organisms.
Our approach also educates the immune system to recognize a specific antigen, a self-antigen. After an Anokion vaccine, the immune system learns that the self-antigen is harmless, and will not initiate an inflammatory response. As in a traditional vaccine, system reacts in the same way upon subsequent exposure to the same antigen.