I am relatively new T1 Dad and I have been using my work experience in biotech startups as a method for helping to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am writing this here as a good part of my own personal therapy to convince myself that a cure is quite possible and there will be an end to this and so that perhaps I can share this hope with a couple of T1D sufferers.
Anyway, getting off the pity pot, it seems like everyone seems to have their favorite therapy which they think is going to work so I am now going to unabashedly promote my own favorite which I read in a journal described as erythrocyte (red blood cell) decoration.
As this is an immuno-therapy the end goal of this technique is to halt the auto-immune attack on the beta cells. Upon success there is an underlying that either a natural recovery will occur (a’la Daniel Darkes) for some lucky few while other will have to go through a more assisted regenerative process. Since I have only been able to find the single individual to reverse the autoimmunity it’s hard to base as conclusions other than it’s “possible”?
Erythrocyte decoration is based on the process of cell death which red blood cells go through en mass on a daily basis. Red blood cells have a unique property to them in which they are considered inert by the immune system since they don’t have DNA (evolution got rid of their nucleoli ages ago so they can hold more oxygen) and thus they go through a special process. The take home of which is that any antigens present on them are automatically accepted as “self” and are therefore tolerated. I have been reading a bunch of papers on the subject and it seems to work like a charm on … (sigh) mice, but it’s something.
Doing my research I have found three different biotech startups which are using this technique.
- Kanyos Bio/Anokion: Using a technique of binding T1D antigens to red blood cells and they are still in the discovery phase of the pipeline.
- SQZ Biotech: They have a really cool technology to disrupt the permeability of erythrocyte cell membranes to allow for the diffusion of T1D antigens into the red blood cell.
- Rubius Therapuetics: I have to look into these folks more but they seems to be using engineered RBC’s to present T1D antigens, but I need to look into them more.
I have been looking for anything in the clinic data which supports this technique but so far I have not found anything and SQZ Biotech is the only one who has goeen further than “discovery” in the pipeline, but I am hopeful.
Because this could not only be used for autoimmune disease but also more common place food and environmental allergies as well as cancer drug rejection, this would give someone who masters this technique and getting it through FDA a really vast market for a single technology.
ps: Sorry for the TL;DR nature of this post.