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NexVax2 – a treatment for coeliac disease?

ImmunsanT are now (September 2012) starting a Phase 1 trial (for safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetic profile) of their NexVax2 vaccine for coeliac disease.

The theory behind the treatment, which is explained in somewhat much more detail in this release from Bob Anderson, ImmusanT's chief scientific officer, is that:

• Coeliac disease is an immune condition, not a gastroenterological one

• Thanks to diagnostic developments, it is now possible to do a genetic test (HLA DQ) on those suspected of suffering from coeliac disease or who are at increased risk of doing so and need to be monitored.

• NexVax is designed to 'switch off' the immune reaction which may occur when those who are genetically predisposed to react to gluten come into contact with it. 'In an approach similar to treatments for allergies to cats and dust mites, Nexvax2 is designed to reprogram gluten-specific T cells triggered by the patient's immune response to the protein.'

There is no doubt that this would be a very exciting development for coeliacs for whom, currently, there is not treatment apart from avoidance. But it will be a good few years, even if all the trials go according to plan, before coeliacs on the street are likely to be able to to get their hands on it.

October 2012



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