Harnessing natural immune control mechanisms treat autoimmune diseases

Targeting inhibitory immune checkpoint receptors as a therapeutic approach for autoimmune diseases

In this project the expertise of the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) on clinical and experimental research in autoimmune vasculitis is combined with MiroBio’s proprietary range of tools and techniques to discover, optimiSe, and develop immune checkpoint modulating antibodies for the treatment of autoimmune diseases.

Our immune system consists of highly specialised cells that have evolved to detect, identify, and destroy pathogens and tumour cells that would otherwise do us harm. These immune cells are controlled by a fine balance of positive and negative signals transmitted via regulatory receptors on the cell surface.

Under normal conditions the negative signals prevent attack on the body's own cells and restore the system to a state of balance after a productive immune response. However, in auto-immune disease control is lost and a cascade of positive activating signals leads to destruction of healthy tissue. Autoimmune diseases affect approximately 4% of the world population and most patients are treated with broad immunosuppressive drugs that come with a range of, sometimes severe, side effects. Therefore, more specific therapies for autoimmune diseases are highly needed.

MiroBio is a preclinical stage company that develops therapeutic antibodies that activate inhibitory immune receptors to dampen the overactive immune response seen in auto-immune diseases and restore balanced immune function, preventing further tissue damage. UMCG will study whether these antibodies affect autoimmune responses using ex vivo assays of cells taken from patients with autoimmune disease. Together, they will also map altered expression of immune checkpoint regulators on immune cells to identify additional targets amenable for therapeutic targeting through MiroBio’s platform.

MiroBio plans to develop its antibody candidates into clinical testing, and UMCG aims to employ the immune checkpoint profile data as an assay that permits precision medicine for autoimmune patients.

In this project, the University Medical Center Groningen and MiroBio, an early-stage biotechnology company, partner to test the potential of immune checkpoint agonist antibodies as a new approach for treating autoimmune disease, by assessing the impact of candidate antibodies on immune responses of cells from patients with autoimmunity.
Technology Readiness Level (TRL)
1 - 3
Time period
12 months