Antigens are molecular structures, such as a portion of a protein or a specific chain of sugars, that trigger an immune response.
By gaining a better understanding of how T-cells contribute to the development of MS, Repertoire and Yale hope to design a new class of medicines that prevents damaging immune responses without weakening the entire immune system.
“We will understand the basis of cellular immunity and hope to develop transformational medicines that no longer involve immunosuppression,” Anthony Coyle, PhD, Repertoire’s president of research and development, said in a press release.
MS occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the myelin sheath that covers nerve fibers in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). T-cells — white blood cells that are important for immune responses against potential threats — are involved in the attack against myelin.
T-cells have unique cell surface receptors that allow them to sense and respond to diverse types of antigens. Under the collaboration, Repertoire and Yale will work together to discover the specific antigens to which T-cells, obtained from the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with MS, can respond. The cerebrospinal fluid is the liquid found around the brain and spinal cord.
First, researchers from Yale will provide the sequences of the receptors located on the surface of T-cells. These sequences determine the ability of T-cells to respond to specific antigens.
Repertoire, a clinical-stage biotech company that focuses on developing novel immune therapies, then will use its proprietary DECODE platform to unravel the real antigens that those T-cell receptors recognize.
The Yale research team will be led by David Hafler, MD, professor of neurology and immunobiology at the Yale School of Medicine and chair of the department of neurology and neurologist-in-chief at Yale New Haven Hospital.
Their understanding of the nature of MS, coupled with Repertoire’s technology, may allow unique insights into how T-cells may contribute to the development of the disease.
“The Yale research team are world-renowned experts in the field of immunobiology particularly in MS, and we’re thrilled to be working together in this scientific capacity,” Coyle said.
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