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UK firm producing AIDS drug enhancing technology

By Kirsty Barnes , 06-Jul-2006

UK biopharma firm Adjuvantix has developed a new technology that it claims can increase the effectiveness of vaccines as well as drugs for cancer, inflammatory diseases and infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and AIDS.

The firm said its novel anti-CD40 antibody technology has been shown capable of increasing antibody responses up to 1,000-fold in studies of influenza and other model antigens.

Adjuvantix discovered that when antibodies against the cell surface receptors CD40 (present on B- and T-lymphocytes) are conjugated to antigen they have a very potent adjuvant effect, and give enhanced antibody and cell mediated immunity even at low antigen dosage.

"We have developed a new approach to stimulate the immune system to improve the effectiveness of a wide range of antigens, including proteins, peptides, polysaccharides and organic molecules, that are used in current vaccines," said the firm.

"This capability would allow the development of vaccines against diseases where current technologies fail or where the immune system is weakened, for example in AIDS or after radio- or chemo-therapy."

The firm believes the technology also has the potential to overcome the limitations of existing adjuvant technologies which are used to enhance immune responses but can also cause unwanted local and systemic side effects, such as pain, redness, swelling and fever.

An antigen is a substance that stimulates an immune response, especially the production of antibodies. An adjuvant is a substance that helps and enhances the pharmacological effect of a drug or increases the ability of an antigen to stimulate the immune system.

Adjuvantix has recently received £240,000 (€350,000) of new funds to drive development of its vaccine enhancing technology from Biofusion, a UK firm established in 2002 to commercialise university-generated intellectual property.

The new funds invested by Biofusion will be used to validate Adjuvantix's technology further and build a robust data package to attract pharmaceutical partners looking to co-develop products for clinical development and marketing.

"New vaccine approaches for both preventing and treating diseases are very much in demand and we are excited by the role Adjuvantix's technology could play in creating a new generation of products," David Baynes, CEO of Biofusion.

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