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ImmunoMolecular Therapeutics (IM Therapeutics), a company developing personalized small molecule therapies for the treatment of genetically defined autoimmune diseases, today made its debut as a spinout from the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes at the University of Colorado. IM Therapeutics was co-founded by Peter Gottlieb, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine with tenure at the University of Colorado Health Science Center, and Director of Translational Research Unit at the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes; and Aaron Michels, M.D., Associate Professor of Pediatrics & Medicine at the University of Colorado Denver, the Frieda and George S. Eisenbarth Clinical Immunology Endowed Chair, and Director of Clinical Immunology at the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes.
IM Therapeutics was created to advance new therapeutic strategies for Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) that aim to directly inactivate pathogenic immune cells responsible for damaging the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. The key to this approach is the group of immune molecules called human leukocyte antigens (HLA). Because HLA molecules arise from genes that are slightly different among individuals (i.e., alleles), some HLA alleles function in an abnormal way to “mis-present” autoantigens that leads the body to mount an immune system attack against itself. The HLA-DQ8 allele is one such gene known to predispose individuals that carry it for T1D by mis-presenting autoantigens that favor the generation and function of harmful, but not protective, immune cells.
“The strategy of directly inhibiting HLA-DQ8 has the potential to preserve beta-cell function if treatment is started early,” says Dr. Michels. “With current advancements in diagnostics, we can identify individuals with the HLA-DQ8 gene at risk of T1D before symptoms occur.”
Dr. Gottlieb continued, “Our ultimate goal is to inhibit the initiation of an autoimmune response, thus maintaining normal insulin production. I am excited to be part of a company that could potentially reduce T1D patients’ lifelong dependence on insulin.”
IM Therapeutics’ scientific co-founders discovered that an oral small molecule drug, methyldopa, targets and inhibits the HLA-DQ8 molecule. The company’s lead candidate, IMT-002, is a proprietary formulation of the D enantiomer of methyldopa. The D enantiomer offers more convenient dosing, better potency and less side effects than the L enantiomer which is an anti-hypertensive. The company has received orphan designation for methyldopa, which applies to both enantiomers. IMT-002 is currently in preclinical development as a candidate to treat T1D in patients with the HLA-DQ8 gene. Drs. Gottlieb and Michels will continue to advance the development of autoimmune therapies for IM
Therapeutics as Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Officer, respectively, while maintaining their clinical and academic appointments.
The company will be led by Dr. Orndorff as President and Chief Executive Officer and Greg Kading, CFA as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer. Dr. Orndorff and Mr. Kading previously worked together at Accera, where they were instrumental in guiding the company from R&D to commercialization.
IM Therapeutics also announced the appointment of a Clinical Advisory Board. Clinical Advisors include renowned researchers in diabetes and immunotherapy, Mark Atkinson, Ph.D., Jay Skyler, M.D., MACP, Stephen Gitelman, M.D., Howard L. Weiner, M.D. and V. Michael Holers, M.D.
Autoimmune disorders are conditions that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue. There are more than 80 different types of autoimmune disorders. Normally the immune system's white blood cells help protect ...