Mån 11 dec / År 41 / Nr 5 2023

Cell Therapy for Immune Diseases

The biotech company Idogen develops tolerogenic vaccines which is a new treatment method for autoimmune diseases, organ rejection and antibodies towards biological therapeutics, based on reprogramming the immune system. The company’s CEO was one of the initiators of the new Cell and Gene Therapy Centre at Medicon Village.

Idogen is a company in Medicon Village who develops tolerogenic vaccines. The term ‘tolerogenic’ refers to that the immune system will tolerate the selected molecule after treatment, and are thus like inverted versions of conventional vaccines.
”It offers a new treatment method for autoimmune diseases, organ rejection after transplantation and for patients having developed antibodies against biological therapeutics,” says Lars Hedbys, co-founder and CEO of Idogen.
The company’s treatment method comprises cells from the patient’s blood being reprogrammed to dendritic cells with the capacity to specifically counteract the adverse immune reaction. The technology platform has the potential to develop long-acting treatment of autoimmune diseases that currently cannot be cured.
In addition, Idogen has the potential to change the transplantation market by reducing the need for immunosuppressive therapy after transplantation. The company was founded in 2008 based on an immunological discovery at Lund University and is listed on Aktietorget.
Cell and gene therapy is the ultimate treatment of personalised medicine since it’s possible use of the patient’s own cells as product batch. But there are challenges. Cells are complex products, hard to characterise and very sensitive. Since they’re fresh there are logistical and storage issues to consider. And if the treatment is based on autologous cells, each batch only works on a single patient, which is challenging in terms of cost-effectiveness. In addition, the medical issues are unique for each product.

Initiator of the New Cell and Gene Therapy Centre
Lars Hedbys has over 20 years experience in senior and executive roles within the life science industry. Previous assignments include CEO roles in public and private companies and Vice President and Site General Manager roles in AstraZeneca. He was also one of the initiators of the new Cell and Gene Therapy Centre at Medicon Village and sees great potential in the new centre.
”From our perspective, who develop a cell therapeutic product it’s key to be able to go from lab scale to GMP scale for clinical trials, i.e. the translational step, and later to commercial production of our cell-based therapies. We lack that competence, in-house, and it’s hard to find in Sweden,” he says, and adds:
”I know that there are research groups at Lund University with similar problems. I therefore contacted Medicon Village and suggested that we use the cleanrooms from AstraZeneca for production of cell and gene therapy products.”
Lars Hedbys thinks that each player at the centre will have its own GMP room, but share some of the instruments and process development infrastructure. Idogen is currently negotiating with Medicon Village as part of a business case. If things work out well they may very well be running their first project at the centre in the first quarter of 2017.