LIH and Tolerogenics collaborate on immune tolerance-promoting therapies

2019 - 09 - 17

The Luxembourg-based biotech start-up Tolerogenics is developing novel immunotherapies based on the induction of immune tolerance. LIH and Tolerogenics have recently concluded a framework agreement for a public-private partnership that aims to implement innovative therapy approaches for the treatment of allergic and autoimmune diseases.

LIH’s Department of Infection and Immunity has extensive knowledge in immunology by analysing the complex mechanisms of infectious and inflammatory disease processes at the molecular and cellular level. This expertise, combined with technology from Tolerogenics, shall lead to novel immune tolerance-inducing approaches to durably cure diseases such as allergies that are based on an excessive, inappropriate activation of the immune system.

Chronic immune diseases are characterised by an imbalance of the immune system towards harmful acting effector T cells. Tolerogenics, in collaboration with LIH, has developed a thermo-sensitive ImmuneGel technology for tolerance induction. The hydrogel composition can be injected subcutaneously to form a drug depot for sustained local release of active substances. So-called “find me” substances from the hydrogel attract antigen-presenting cells (APCs). Those then internalise liposomes released from the hydrogel that display an “eat me” signal on their surface and are loaded with allergens or autoantigens. The phagocytosis turns the cells into primed tolerogenic APCs that can interact with T cells and induce the generation of allergen/autoantigen-specific regulatory T cells. The latter subsequently migrate and suppress the harmful activity of effector T cells, thus re-establishing the body’s immune balance.

For this technology, LIH and Tolerogenics already filed two patent applications as co-applicants. Next to the framework agreement, a co-ownership agreement for the intellectual property was set up by LIH’s Business Development Office. Following the conclusion of these agreements, a next step is to raise funds to support more collaborative research projects and validate the effectiveness of the hydrogel treatment. LIH will support Tolerogenics in this process. ‘We are looking forward to further stimulating research projects with the start-up. Such public-private partnerships are perfectly in line with our endeavour to conduct application-targeted research that can generate economic value and improve patient health’, states Prof Markus Ollert, Director of the Department of Infection and Immunity.