Researchers at ZymoGenetics, Inc. announced today the discovery of a potential new therapy for lupus, and possibly other autoimmune diseases . Administration of a novel immunosuppressive agent developed at ZymoGenetics inhibited disease symptoms and prolonged life in a mouse model of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). This research, reported in the April 27, 2000 issue of Nature, demonstrates the important role genomics can play in the discovery of novel pharmaceuticals.
Researchers hope that this discovery could lead to breakthrough treatments for a variety of immunological diseases, such as lupus, myasthenia gravis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, and perhaps certain types of lymphatic cancers.
"We were one of the first to recognize the powerful opportunity to identify protein therapeutics from genomics approaches," said ZymoGenetics President and CEO, Bruce L.A. Carter, Ph.D. "Our discovery that the soluble TACI receptor inhibits symptoms of autoimmune disease provides further validation of our strategy, which combines expertise in genomics and biology to turn novel proteins into therapeutic candidates."
How the New Treatment Worked in Mice B cells play an important role in the body's immune system by producing antibodies, which attach to foreign matter and initiate a normal immune response.
In diseases of autoimmunity like lupus, B cells go awry and produce antibodies that attack the body in a destructive manner. In SLE patients, the amounts of these circulating antibodies become too great for the body to effectively eliminate, eventually resulting in kidney damage and sometimes death.
The immunosuppressive agent under investigation at ZymoGenetics, termed soluble "TACI," is a modified form of a receptor that is found on the surface of B cells. Soluble TACI works by capturing a cytokine in the blood that stimulates B cells to make antibodies. In diseased mice treated with soluble TACI, this captured cytokine w
Contact: Charles E. Hart, Ph.D.