Sön 14 aug / År 40 / Nr 3 2022

The splendour of tolerogenic cell therapies

The biotech company Idogen develops tolerogenic cell therapies to prevent biological drugs, transplanted organs or the body’s own cells or tissue from being attacked by the patient’s immune system.

Idogen was founded 2008 in Lund, but is today a public company listed on the Nasdaq First North Growth Market. The company has now entered into a very exciting phase where it’s first clinical trial, a phase 1/2a in patients with hemophilia A, will begin in the very soon future. The results from this study will be very interesting, since it will provide data which will be important for future partnership discussions.

Targeting unwanted immunological reactions

The technology behind Idogen’s therapies is based on the immune system’s function to attack foreign cells such as bacteria, infections and viruses, which is a desired reaction.

Unfortunately, there are diseases and conditions that cause the immune system to attack cells and proteins that are supposed to be present in the body, thus causing an unwanted reaction. It is this unwanted reaction that Idogen is targeting with their tolerogenic cell therapy. The aim with the cell therapy is to develop a very specific tolerance for selected antigens.

Next up: clinical trials

The most advanced development program in Idogen’s portfolio is called IDO 8. It is aimed at patients with severe hemophilia A who have developed neutralizing antibodies against their vital treatment with the protein-based coagulation factor VIII.

“We have successfully developed a treatment based on the patient’s own cells that can wean the body into accepting treatment with factor VIII. We have a partnership with a manufacturer in the Netherlands since December 2019, and we are planning to start the first clinical trial in patients within the IDO 8 program very soon”, says Anders Karlsson, CEO of Idogen.

The introduction of a new treatment that can facilitate tolerance for factor VIII treatment with neutralizing antibodies would have a significant impact on treatment of severe hemophilia A patients.

Tolerance in transplantations

Idogen is also developing the tolerogenic cell therapy IDO T, targeting the problem with organ rejection after transplantation. IDO T is developed primarily for kidney transplantation but may be modified to suit transplantation of other organs in the future.

IDO T aims to reduce the need for immunosuppressive drugs and thereby reduce the risk of cancer and infections after transplantation. The ultimate goal with our cell therapy is to extend the life of the transplanted organ”, says Anders Karlsson.

Treating autoimmune diseases

Idogen has also a third development program, aimed at treatment of autoimmune diseases. The development program is called IDO AID, and is in early pre-clinical development.

Patients with autoimmune diseases are often treated for long periods with drugs that severely suppress the immune system. However, the effect against the underlying disease is rarely optimal and the treatment can lead to unwanted side effects. There are for many of these diseases a significant medical need for improved therapies.

“Our tolerogenic cell therapy aims to reduce the need for broad and unspecific immunosuppressive drugs and instead introduce a treatment that specific targets the antigen that triggers the unwanted immune reaction”, says Anders Karlsson.

Idogen is evaluating the potential for IDO AID in a group of autoimmune diseases where there is a significant medical need and where a treatment has the opportunity to be granted orphan drug status.