A study that OSE Immunotherapeutics conducted on the role that a protein receptor plays in bowel disease supports its development of a treatment that blocks the receptor, the company reports.
It designed OSE-127 (Effi-7) to help inflammatory bowel disease patients who fail to respond to treatments that suppress their immune system. OSE-127 blocks the interleukin-7 receptor.
OSE presented the study’s finding at the 11th European Workshop on Immune Mediated Inflammatory Diseases in Paushuis-Utrecht, the Netherlands, in mid-December. The title of the presentation was “Interleukin-7 receptor pathway controls human T cell homing to the gut and predicts response to anti-TNFα in patients with inflammatory bowel disease.”
The discovery sheds light on why preclinical-trial studies showed that OSE-127 works. The studies demontrasted that it prevents immune T-cells from reaching an inflamed colon, where they can do more damage. Blocking the T-cells from reaching the colon prevents the destruction of mucus that the gut needs to protect itself.
Previous studies have linked a protein known as interleukin-7, or IL-7, with a variety of autoimmune diseases, including IBD. An autoimmune disease is one in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue instead of invaders.
IL-7 is an important immune cell regulator. When inflammed tissue produces IL-7, T-cells go to the site of the inflammation to attack the protein. The T-cells then activate other immune cells, aggravating the inflammation and worsening the disease.
OSE-127 is an antibody that blocks the IL-7 receptor, preventing T-cells from entering gut tissue and reducing inflammation.
OSE Immunotherapeutics researchers used a database to examine the genetic makeup of colon tissue biopsies from 500 IBD patients and 100 healthy controls.
They discovered that the IL-7 receptor was over-active in the colon tissue of IBD patients who had failed to respond to treatment with corticosteroids, immunosuppressors or anti-TNFα therapy. There was a particularly strong link between IL-7 receptor over-activity and failed anti-TNFα treatment, they said.
IL-7 receptor over-activity in bowel disease patients who had failed to respond to other treatments underscores the potential of “a treatment targeting this receptor,” Nicolas Poirier, OSE Immunotherapeutics’ scientific director, said in a press release.
The research on human tissue, combined with the success of the preclinical-trial studies of OSE-127, “reinforce the rationale for OSE-127 as a leading emerging therapy in chronic inflammation,” he said. The company plans to start clinical trials of the therapy this year, he said.