Researchers from Opexa, a Woodlands, Texas-based biotechnology company developing Precision Immunotherapy by personalizing the treatment of autoimmune disease, will be presenting results from a recent study in which they identified the therapeutic mechanisms of Rituximab when used in the treatment of Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO). The presentation entitled, “Immune profiling of NMO patients receiving Rituximab immunotherapy” will take place during the 67th American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Annual Meeting April 18-25, 2015, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC.
In the study, Opexa researchers tested Rituximab, a drug approved to treat blood cancers such as leukemias and lymphomas but which has been effectively shown to treat autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. To investigate Rituximab’s mechanisms of action in treating NMO, blood products were collected from 10 patients with NMO receiving Rituximab therapy and from 30 healthy donors. Using highly technical laboratory techniques, immunological cells and their activation levels were profiled, quantified and compared against each other. The results showed that even with Rituximab treatment in this set of NMO patients, there were still high levels of immunologic cells and inflammatory markers.
The study presentation will be given during the abstract session entitled, “The Promise of Novel Biomarker Approaches in Advancing Treatment.” The aim of the session is to give its attendees a familiarity with the types of biomarkers that can be used in neurological diseases, the rationale for their use, and how they can help stratify patients, provide outcome measures, and guide treatment choices.
NMO is an inflammatory autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (CNS) characterized by severe attacks of optic neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerve) and myelitis (inflammation of the spinal cord). It is a rare disease with the overall rate in the population estimated to be 1 in 100,000 and is more common in middle-aged, non-Caucasian females. There is currently no FDA approved cure for NMO, and due to its rarity there have been no completed randomized control trials for this patient population. Any prescribed drugs to treat the disorder are done off-label. Three therapies used in the U.S. to treat the disease are mycophenolate mofetil (CellCept), rituximab (Rituxan), and azathioprine (Imuran).
Opexa aims to provide improved, targeted, patient-specific therapies for this rare disease by utilizing its technology and improving T-cell therapy for this patient population.
Opexa Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:OPXA) is a publicly traded biotechnology company developing a personalized immunotherapy with the potential to treat major illnesses, including multiple sclerosis (MS) as well as other autoimmune diseases such as Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO). These therapies are based on Opexa’s proprietary T-cell technology, ImmPath®. The Company’s leading therapy candidate Tcelna® is a personalized T-cell immunotherapy that is in a Phase IIb clinical development program (the Abili-T trial) for the treatment of Secondary Progressive MS.
Opexa’s facility is located 30 miles North of Houston in The Woodlands, Texas and includes its cGMP facility, research laboratories and corporate offices.