Who we are ?
Immunovo BV is a Dutch private biotechnology company, based in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, engaged in the discovery and clinical development of immunotherapeutics in the field of oncology. The key priority for Immunovo is on its proprietary Immune Activation System (IAS*) based on combining synthetic peptide antigens with a novel immune stimulant (adjuvant). IAS* has the potential to be a truly disruptive technology in the immunotherapeutic field as crucially there are fewer economic factors in place which restrict access to wider numbers of patients in comparison to currently prescribed drugs.
Immunovo was founded in 2009 by a group of experienced private investors together with Dr. Joost van Bree, a seasoned life science veteran and former CEO of Pepscan. Immunovo was spun out of Pepscan Holding NV, to be able to concentrate specifically on IAS*. The company currently has a Phase II prostate cancer project partnered with Novartis. A second project, targeting angiogenesis, is in phase I/II clinical testing at the VUmc (Free University Medical Center) in Amsterdam. Behind these programs lies a rich pipeline of IAS products targeting other key oncology targets. Immunovo’s TLR-4 based immune stimulants outperform currently used adjuvants with respect to safety and efficacy.
For the above technology, a full cGMP program has been completed and a robust manufacturing process is in place. From an ROI point of view, the cost of goods for the Immunovo adjuvants and antigens are comparatively several levels of magnitude lower than those commonly seen for antibodies.
What we do
Immunotherapy is a rapidly emerging field providing promising new therapies for cancer and other presently incurable diseases. A major attraction of this approach is that it sets out to deliver precisely aimed therapies with significantly reduced risk of side effects and discomfort for the patient. Immunotherapy harnesses the immune system either via elimination or arresting the growth of undesired cells (cancer) or controlling diseases caused by normal biochemical processes that have gone out of control (Alzheimer, hypertension, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, etc). Recently immunotherapy as a treatment modality in oncology has gained solid ground most commonly from the use of monoclonal antibodies (MAbs). Through this approach it is foreseen that many cancers will eventually be cured or at least reduced to manageable chronic conditions.
It is our vision that Immunovo’s immunotherapies offer the prospect of the development of effective treatments for a large number of patients that will transform their cancers from a deadly into a chronic disease.
Until now, antibody based products have formed the mainstay of commercial immunotherapies. Therapeutic antibodies are produced outside the body and administered by intravenous infusion (passive immunization). These novel therapies have significantly increased patient survival and enhanced quality of life.
This creates a subset of patients who have overcome the initial phase of disease, but who are often confronted with recurrent symptoms that could again threaten their morbidity and mortality. The currently available monoclonal therapies have some limitations when considered as chronic therapies. Cost and tolerability of these products create potential barriers. For this growing patient population Immunovo has developed IAS*, consisting of 2 proprietary elements thereby mobilizing a patient’s immune system to interfere with signaling systems of malignant cells and tumors. This creates opportunities for the development of new treatment options and but also more advanced and effective regimens by combining active and passive immunization. Furthermore, it becomes possible to address the hurdles such as high cost and limited tolerability by using IAS* for subchronic and chronic therapy.
Typically, therapeutic approaches depend on developing appropriate immunogens in order to raise the desired antibodies. However, in many cases, current methods fail to do so, resulting in a class of so called “Intractable Targets”.
The same applies to “silent immunogens” which will not generate antibodies as part of the native protein, since the body will prevent development of antiself immunity. Subtle variations at the level of single amino acids of the antigen and a good mimic of the active site 3D molecular conformation in an iterative process will ultimately generate an antibody response with the desired efficacies and therapeutic profile.
Traditional technologies however, have only a remote chance of accidentally stumbling upon antibodies with superior safety and efficacy. Finally and in general, immunotherapy addresses ‘self’ antigens which by themselves are poorly immunogenic. Thus successful development of immunotherapy requires the ability to:
Precisely define the antigens at the level of single amino acids as a function of their native local configuration;
Reconstruct those antigens as synthetic mimics,
Translate them into immunogens that induce the desired antibody response;
Maximize antibody response by specific stimulation of the immune system.