DiaPep277® mechanism of action demonstrated

(PresseBox) ( Goettingen, )
DeveloGen, a biopharmaceutical company active in the discovery and development of novel therapeutic drugs for the treatment of metabolic disorders, today announced that a team of researchers, led by Prof. Irun R. Cohen of the Department of Immunology of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, has revealed the molecular mechanism of action by which DiaPep277 establishes regulation in the immune system.

In a recent publication in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, the research group led by Prof. Cohen describes how a protein called HSP60 and a small peptide fragment derived from it, called DiaPep277, can activate a subgroup of T-cells which down-regulate the pathogenic T-cells that cause type 1 diabetes. DiaPep277-treated regulatory T-cells change the cytokine profile secreted by the pathogenic T-cells. Pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are lethal to the insulin-producing beta-cells, are replaced by cytokines that can inhibit inflammatory reactions. Thus, the immune damage is arrested by treatment with DiaPep277.

Prof. Irun R. Cohen, Department of Immunology of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, expressed his satisfaction with the discovery. "When we developed DiaPep277 treatment, we knew it was capable of inducing the change in cytokine profile needed to shut off the immune attack. But now, we also know the basic mechanism involved. Quite simply, DiaPep277 augments a control system natural to the immune response; DiaPep277 goes with nature in re-programming the autoimmune response that causes type 1 diabetes."

Dr. Cord Dohrmann, Chief Scientific Officer and member of the management board of DeveloGen, added: "We believe that DiaPep277 will constitute a breakthrough in the treatment of type 1 diabetes, as it deals with the fundamental pathology of the disease and is very well tolerated. This publication from Prof. Cohen's team further strengthens the rationale behind the develop-ment of DiaPep277, as it clearly demonstrates its' mechanism of action."

Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system destroys the insulin-producing beta-cells of the pancreas, resulting in diminished and eventually non-existing insulin production. As a consequence, patients become life-long dependent on exogenous insulin therapy. Until now there has been no safe and effective way of stopping the immune destruction and curing the disease.

DiaPep277, is a synthetic peptide immunomodulator, which is being developed exclusively by DeveloGen for the treatment of type 1 diabetes. The product has completed phase II development with good safety profile and has shown the ability to preserve the endogenous insulin production in newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes patients. The product has entered phase III clinical development in 2005, as DeveloGen is conducting a global study in Europe, South Africa and Israel.
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