There are many situations where the body’s immune system can hurt us instead of protecting us. One example is when it causes transplant rejection. Another is when the immune system neutralises the activity of biological drugs, for example, in the treatment of haemophilia A with factor VIII. A third example is autoimmune diseases – such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases, type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis (MS) – where the immune system attacks the body’s own proteins or self-antigens.
The ability to create a properly functioning immune system that protects and defends the body from invasion by foreign organisms – such as viruses, bacteria and tumours – would revolutionise the treatment of patients with severe chronic illness. Idogen is aiming to lead this revolution. The company contributes by developing cell therapies, which is a different approach to conventional medical therapies. Instead of administering a chemical substance to the body, the patient is treated with their own cells.
Idogen’s treatment is based on dendritic cells, types of white blood cells, that play a central role in the immune system, because they control other immune system cells’ recognition of what belongs in the body (self) and what is foreign (non-self). When we are exposed to potentially harmful bacteria or viruses, the dendritic cells trigger our immune response. At the same time, they ensure that the immune system does not attack our own body. The dendritic cells that prevent the immune system from attacking the body’s own healthy cells are called tolerogenic. The aim of Idogen’s technology is to develop tolerogenic dendritic cells that are programmed for defined molecules or antigens.