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'Enterprizing' Vaccine For Rheumatoid Arthritis

05 Oct 2007

As edited by

Enterprize finalist, Dendright, will be pitching its vaccine technology for rheumatoid arthritis to venture capitalists and the public for a $100,000 prize next week.

The mechanism to turn off an auto-immune disease once it has started was discovered in 2003 by UQ rheumatologist, Professor Ranjeny Thomas, and means that a vaccine will re-educate the immune system so that it will not attack itself.

"Vaccines re-educate the immune system," said Professor Thomas, who is a rheumatologist and Director of Dendright.

"What's different here is that this vaccine targets the specific antigens underlying rheumatoid arthritis," she said.

Phase one human clinical trials of the vaccine are planned in Queensland as a cell therapy, where dendritic cells are collected from the patient, treated and re-injected. Future development is focused on targeting dendritic cells in the body (in vivo).

Rheumatoid arthritis is an incurable auto-immune disease which affects one in every 100 people worldwide as is one of the most common causes of chronic disability in the community.

Article adapted by from original press release.

"Most auto-immune diseases have their onset when people are aged in their 20s to 40s, and they last a lifetime," Professor Thomas said.

In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system inappropriately attacks joints, eating away at the cartilage and damaging the underlying bone. This abnormal immune response is promoted by smoking in people who have at-risk genes.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects three females to every one male contracting the condition. Symptoms include pain, swelling of joints, and later deformity and loss of function in hands, knees and other joints.

According to Dr Genevieve Giuliani, Uniquest Commercialisation and Innovation Manager and member of the Dendright management team, the drive and commitment of Professor Thomas to alleviate the suffering of rheumatoid arthritis patients is key to the success of the program.

"The vaccine will be used in the first instance to treat patients already affected and stop further damage," she said.

"The future in vivo therapy will be more widely applicable, easier to deliver, and quicker to market than cell therapy."

Dr Giuliani said that winning the $100,000 would help to appoint a CEO for Dendright, to drive fundraising efforts, manage the regulatory approvals process and oversee the commercialization of the vaccine.

Dendright is the company created to commercialise this novel vaccine technology based on dendritic cells for the treatment of auto-immune diseases.

Dendright will pitch their business idea with six other finalists to venture capitalists and the public at Enterprize Pitch Day from 4pm on Thursday, October 11 at The Queensland State Library Auditorium, Southbank.

Places are limited. For reservation enquiries to Enterprize Pitch Day, email the Event Manager, Amy Hyslop,

The University of Queensland, Brisbane Australia

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