03 April 2023 | Monday | News
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Autoimmune diseases occur when the body's immune system becomes oversensitive to proteins that are normally harmless, thus triggering a reaction that leads to the immune system attacking the body's own cells and tissues. Autoimmune diseases have risen steadily in recent years, with an annual average increase of 3% to 9%, representing a growing global health concern . Similarly, allergic reactions or conditions occur when the body's immune system is triggered against a harmless allergen such as certain types of foods (e.g., peanuts) or animals (e.g., dogs and cats) . The rising unmet medical needs require more treatment options for patients around the world.
In an effort to address such needs, Drew Weissman, MD, PhD, the Roberts Family Professor in Vaccine Research in the Perelman School of Medicine at Penn, and his laboratory, will collaborate with RVAC to develop and optimize mRNA vaccine candidates that induce immune tolerance, thereby reducing the chances of autoimmune responses that may lead to more serious autoimmune diseases or allergic conditions. The focus of the collaboration will be on developing potential new vaccines for food allergies and certain selected autoimmune indications.
"We are excited to begin this collaboration with Dr. Weissman, a pioneer in the field of mRNA vaccines and therapeutics," said Dr. Sean Fu, Chief Executive Officer of RVAC. "With this collaboration, we want to develop mRNA vaccine product candidates with the potential to improve lives of patients who suffer from certain autoimmune diseases and allergies."
"Allergic reactions and inappropriate autoimmune responses make people's lives very difficult and restrictive," said Weissman. "We are excited to begin this collaboration for certain conditions that currently have imperfect and incomplete therapies."
Dr. Jason Zhang, Chief Scientific Officer at RVAC, noted,
"We are very glad to work with Dr. Weissman on potential mRNA treatment approaches for a broad spectrum of allergy and autoimmune diseases. The collaboration will apply the mRNA technologies to induce antigen-specific immune tolerances, and RVAC is committed to becoming a leader in this field."