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Collaboration advances potential therapy for autoimmune diseases

RICHLAND, Wash. - The Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has launched a collaboration with two U.S. companies and Russian scientists to develop a more effective treatment for autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, which afflict nearly 50 million Americans. The collaboration represents the latest commercial venture between a former Russian weapons facility, a DOE national laboratory and U.S. industry under DOE's Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention program (IPP).

Through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, Advanced Biotherapy Inc. of Woodland Hills, Calif., and New Horizon Diagnostics Inc. of Columbia, Md., will hold nonexclusive licenses to inventions created by scientists at the Institute of Immunological Engineering of Moscow or by PNNL researchers through this program.

The Russian scientists have created unique humanized antibodies to gamma interferon, a protein that when overproduced triggers and exacerbates various autoimmune conditions. This work is a major step toward creating a much-improved treatment for certain autoimmune diseases. Until recently, most treatments employed antibodies derived from mice, which were effective but could be used only one or two times before the human body rejected them. Antibodies are proteins that bind to and disable foreign proteins, called antigens. With fully humanized antibodies, the human body potentially could accept them over longer periods of time, thus providing for long-term treatment.

The Russian research, coupled with a treatment method developed by Advanced Biotherapy, appears promising. During the past year, PNNL scientists have worked closely with the Russians to verify research results, monitor progress and identify and secure a viable commercial partner. PNNL is the technical lead for most biological and chemical-related projects conducted throughout several national laboratories for IPP.

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Contact: Staci Maloof
staci.maloof@pnl.gov
509-372-6313
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
3-Jun-2002


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