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Nextera is a drug discovery company based on a proprietary phage display technology and with a focus on new therapies for autoimmune diseases.
The key innovative element is our unique Phagemer technology enabling antigen specific CD4+ T cell detection and epitope discovery of HLA class II expressed antigens. A Phagemer is in short HLA class II molecules expressed on a capside protein of a filamentous phage particle.
Most autoimmune diseases share the common feature of having unknown antigens and complex disease pathogenesis. Consequently, current therapies are mainly symptom modifying. Using our Phagemer technology, we aim to identify these unknown antigens, and exploit this knowledge to develop new and highly focused targeted pharmaceuticals. The effect will be improved drug efficacy devoid of or highly reduced in adverse and side effects seen with current therapies, which rely on a much broader mode of action. Our vision is to be a leading source of new drug targets and drug candidates for autoimmune diseases within 2016.
Nextera is based on technology from the internationally renowned group of Professor Inger Sandlie at the University of Oslo. Sandlie’s group is one of the pioneers in the field of antibody engineering with articles in highly rated journals such as Nature, Nature reviews in drug discovery and PNAS.
Oslo Innovation Center
Phone: +47 22 95 81 94
About our platform
Nextera holds the rights to a new and improved phage display platform based on protein display on the pVII and pIX capsid proteins of the filamentous phage particle. pVII display forms the basis for a novel helper phage portfolio termed TaggerPhage. This improves the versatility of currently used phage display technology, opening for a broader use than the established drug discovery platforms. pIX display represents the next generation phage display technology for protein engineering and drug discovery. As display module pIX harbor all the assets currently associated with pIII display, but lacks the downsides restricting current pIII display systems, such as repertoire bias, oligovalency and immunity effects. Nexteras pIX display platform has therefore proven superior for affintity selection in direct comparison with existing pIII display systems.
The immune system at a glance
The immune system is comprised of specialized cells and tissues in the body important for protecting us against disease and preserving homeostasis. For instance, all of us are continuously exposed to bacteria and viruses, usually without even noticing. This is due to an effective neutralization of the intruding microorganisms by the immune system. New immune cells are produced every day, and part of this process, called tolerance induction, is to teach the specialized cells the difference between our own normal proteins and proteins that are different, either due to mutations, or because they are of foreign origin. This ultimately produces an effective adaptive immune system, which is tolerant to our own proteins. Educated immune cells survey the body looking for intruders, and when such is found, an immune response is directed toward the intruders.
The normal immune response begins with antigen presenting cells (APCs) that sample their environment e.g. looking for intruding pathogens. These are ingested and degraded, and peptides derived from their proteins are presented on MHC class I or MHC class II molecules to T cell receptors on naïve T cells. The T cells then become activated and mature, before they help neutralize the invading pathogens. A subset of T cells, called helper T cells, are the key directors of the immune system. They are important for both activation of another subset of T cells called killer, or cytotoxic, T cells which can kill infected cells, and B cells, which produce neutralizing antibodies specific for the pathogens.
What are autoimmune diseases?
Autoimmune diseases represent a diverse collection of diseases in terms of demographic profile and clinical manifestations. All are characterized by damage to tissues and organs that arises from the loss of self-tolerance. When the immune systems tolerance to self is broken, the immune cells start attacking the body’s own cells. The underlying mechanisms behind this phenomenon are at large unknown, and in most cases, so are the initiating antigens, usually proteins, that cause this immune system break-down. During any immune reaction, there is an ongoing inflammatory response in the affected tissues. Current hypotheses, suggests that at least some autoimmune diseases may be initiated by an aberrant immune response evoked by a foreign pathogen through a process termed molecular mimicry, redirected towards a self antigen driving the pathology. However, as there are no pathogens sustaining the autoimmune disease progression, and the self antigen in question is unknown, effective and targeted treatment is severely hampered. Current therapies therefore target the inflammatory response resulting in mild to severe general immunosupression.
How can we make a difference?
In order to make better and improved treatments for autoimmune diseases, while at the same time reducing side-effects due to an unspecific treatment, we need a better understanding of disease pathogenesis, and the trigging antigen in particular. Exploiting Nexteras proprietary drug discovery platform, we are able to identify autoimmune disease specific antigens, thereby providing new drug targets and drug candidates, and ultimately producing new drugs with the ability to specifically treat the disease, instead of inhibiting the immune system as a whole.