A new immunotherapy company, Celimmune LLC, plans to focus on clinical development of novel treatments for celiac and other autoimmune diseases, according to a press release.
Celimmune, headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, recently began operations in February 2015.
“Despite well-characterized pathophysiology and well-understood science, only a handful of clinical-stage assets are in active development worldwide for celiac disease and it is with this in mind that Celimmune is committed to acquiring and in-licensing carefully screened and selected therapeutic candidates for rapid translation into advanced-stage clinical development,” Francisco Leon, MD, PhD, CEO and chief medical officer of Celimmune, said in the release.
The company’s leading efforts are diet non-responsive celiac disease and refractory celiac disease (celiac disease-triggered T-cell lymphoma), according to the release.
“Currently, there are no treatments approved for celiac disease and the only management option is a strict, life-long, gluten-free diet, which severely impacts quality of life and presents considerable compliance challenges,” Leon said in the release. “Gluten contamination is pervasive in modern society and celiac patients’ perception of the burden of this disease on their lives is second only to chronic end-stage renal disease.”
A typical daily diet consists of 10 g of gluten, however consuming 50 mg can activate disease, Leon said in the press release.
“As much as 50% of celiac subjects on a disciplined gluten-free diet still exhibit active disease (non-responsive celiac disease), as evidenced by complete mucosal atrophy, circulating autoantibodies and clinical symptoms,” Leon said in the release. “Celiac autoantibodies are believed to be responsible for many of the multiple extra-intestinal manifestations of celiac disease, including dermatitis and neurological disorders.”
Leon also mentioned refractory celiac disease, a T cell lymphoma that occurs in approximately 1% of celiac patients, has no approved therapy and, therefore, poor prognosis.
Celiac disease affects 1% of Western and 0.5% of Asian populations. Diagnoses are projected to dramatically increase with advanced diagnostic tools and clinical awareness, according to the release.