€6m to fight a fatal disease
16.10.2012 - The European Commission gives €6m to a research consortium tackling a severe immune system disorder. „FIGHT HLH“ is led by Swiss Novimmune.
The European Commission wants to dismantle a malicious disease. By spending €6m of FP7 money for research into hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), it wants to advance knowledge about possible treatment options about this orphan disease. The awardee is a consortium of institutions named FIGHT HLH. Among the institutions are Hospitals in Florence and Rome and Lonza Biologics plc. The consortium leader, however, is based in Switzerland. Novimmune SA from Geneva is the originator of the treatment option in question: NI-0501. This fully human monoclonal antibody is a potent inhibitor of the cytokine IFNγ, Cristina de Min, the company’s Chief Medical Officer, stresses the aim of the collaboration: „The programme is designed to give a clear readout on the ability of the drug to affect disease course.“ Novimmune CEO Jack Barbut adds that he is „delighted to have been selected by the European Commission for such a prestigious grant.“
HLH is caused by an impairment of cytotoxic T cell function that triggers an anomalous activation of the immune system. This activation stems mainly from an dramatic increase in IFNγ levels. NI-0501 targets IFNγ. Novimmune tested the drug in Phase I clinical trials successfully for safety and also demonstrated in animal studies that clearing excess IFNγ with the antibody reverses organ pathology and re-establishes key clinical parameters.