Our Arenavirus Platform
The immune system is the body’s natural defense mechanism against pathogens. Our proprietary technology is capable of targeting and treating disease with a tailored immune response. Our science is based on a novel and highly differentiated delivery platform based on arenaviruses, a family of naturally-occurring viruses.
Our platform is based on engineering arenaviruses to carry and deliver virus-specific or tumor-specific genes directly in patients to evoke an immune response by T cells, also known as CD8+ T cells. T cells play an important role in the body’s immune response, acting like soldiers who search out and destroy the targeted invaders. Arenaviruses have been used for decades as a preclinical tool to study T cell responses.
Our co-founder, Rolf Zinkernagel, was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his arenavirus-based work on how CD8+ T cells recognize virus-infected cells. We believe that arenaviruses have several key advantages which give them the characteristics of an optimal antigen-specific immunotherapy, including:
• ability to induce a robust CD8+ T cell response by directly targeting and activating dendritic cells, which are the most efficient antigen-presenting cells of the body;
• ability to induce a robust antibody response to disease-specific target antigens;
• allow for repeat administration that can boost immune response;
• they do not require an adjuvant to stimulate the immune system; and
• have been observed to be well tolerated in preclinical studies and clinical trials.
We are pioneers in arenavirus therapeutics with a proprietary scientific platform to systematically and reproducibly engineer potent arenavirus-based therapies. Our two technologies are capable of delivering disease-specific antigens for the prevention and treatment of disease.
The arenavirus family is comprised of over 30 currently known species, many of which we believe have potential prophylactic and therapeutic applications. LCMV Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV) has been used for decades in research and has been the tool of choice for many important scientific discoveries because it is known to induce the most potent immune responses. Our founder Daniel Pinschewer had the foresight to envision a means by which these viruses could be reengineered to redirect their potent immune response against specific diseases.
In nature, immune responses elicited by arenaviruses only target arenaviruses. It took 21st century technology, drive and perseverance to engineer arenaviruses that elicit the same high-level T cell responses but specifically targeted against other infectious diseases and cancer.