CuraVac is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing the medical and commercial potential of a revolutionary technique for the production of specific Therapeutic Vaccines (or Active Targeted Immunotherapies) for autoimmune diseases.
We are currently focusing our research on a Therapeutic Vaccine for Myasthenia Gravis (MG), an autoimmune disease that attacks the neuromuscular junction and impairs its ability to transmit nerve influx to trigger muscle contractions. This leads to extreme muscular weakness and renders actions such as keeping eyelids open, speaking, swallowing or breathing hard to perform.
The target of the erroneous autoimmune response in MG are the acetylcholine receptors (AChr), an integral membrane protein responsible for binding to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh). In normal situations, a nerve influx induces the liberation of ACh into the neuromuscular junction, This ACh then binds to the receptors, that in turn, open and let ions enter the muscle cells, inducing a normal muscle contraction.
In those affected by Myasthenia Gravis, a region of the acetylcholine receptors called the main immuno region, is wrongly targeted and blocked by antibodies. This renders them inactive and leads ultimately to their destruction through a cascade of biological reactions.
Understanding that this was where the treatment should intervene, and following a discovery by professor J. Edwin Blalock, CuraVac managed to create a complementary antigen peptide by looking at the mRNA sequence of the main immuno region and determining it’s hydrophilic/hydrophobic pattern. By then reversing the mRNA sequence, we obtained the inverse pattern that serves as the basis for the manufacturing of our complementary peptide.
This complementary antigen peptide is then simply injected to the patient via a vaccine to induce the creation of complementary antibodies. These complementary antibodies then bind to the offending auto-antibodies, rendering them unable to connect to the main immuno region of the receptors.
Thanks to this process, the Acetylcholine receptors can function as intended and a healthy neuromuscular function is restored.
Drugs currently available on the market rely on aggressive alterations to the immune system, often by reducing its global effectiveness. This can lead to severe side effects, without effectively curing the patient. Our approach at CuraVac, is to develop a treatment that can focus only on the offending part of the immune system, leaving the healthy functions unaffected.
Down the line, our goal is to develop treatments for other autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), type-1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus Erythematosus (SLE), by using the same complementary peptide technology.
The success of CuraVac’s first Therapeutic Vaccine is a potential breakthrough in the autoimmune field and could open the door to a new kind of treatment. One that can possibly offer a long-lasting improvement and bring a potential cure to sufferers of autoimmune diseases all around the world.