Neovacs and Lupus Europe Help Raise Awareness of the Disease on World Lupus Day

Ines Martins, PhD avatar

by Ines Martins, PhD |

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Native Americans and SLE

The French immunotherapy vaccine developer Neovacs joined with Lupus Europe to raise awareness of the disease on World Lupus Day yesterday.

Neovacs develops vaccines for lupus and other autoimmune diseases. Lupus Europe is an umbrella organization of 24 patient associations in 22 countries.

Paris-based Neovacs developed its proprietary Kinoid technology to target diseases associated with overproduction of proteins called cytokines. Immune cells release the proteins, which play key roles in moderating immune responses.

Overproduction of cytokines such as interferon alpha promotes inflammation and dysregulation of the immune system, causing diseases like lupus.

Neovacs’ IFNalpha Kinoid vaccine has shown promise in early clinical trials of being able to prevent lupus by triggering the production of antibodies that can neutralize all 13 sub-types of the IFNα protein in lupus patients’ blood.

The company is recruiting patients worldwide for a Phase 2b clinical trial (NCT02665364) of the vaccine. The study will evaluate its effectiveness, safety and immunogenicity, or ability to provoke an immune response.

The primary measure of the trial’s success will be the change in genes’ expression of IFN once the vaccine is administered. Expression is the process by which information from a gene is used to create a functional product like a protein.

“Fifty years ago, lupus meant a death sentence,” Anne Charlet, vice chair of Lupus Europe, said in a news release. “Today, people can have a relatively normal life, thanks to more — but not yet enough — treatments and a better understanding of the disease. It’s the clinical trials that are vital to lupus. In terms of research, we are quite excited about a few labs who have taken interest in lupus these past few years. We are watching with great interest the possibility of a vaccination, which would be magnificent for the patients.”

Patients’ associations are an important resource for lupus patients. Lupus Europe’s mission is to assist patients and promote lupus research.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease caused by the immune system becoming hyperactive and attacking healthy tissue. This results in inflammation, swelling, and damage to joints, skin, kidneys, blood, the heart, and lungs.

More than a half million Europeans have the disease, which mostly affects women.