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BioMed X Start Collaboration in Autoimmunity Research with Servier

The new research team at the BioMed X Institute in Heidelberg will develop a novel strategy to selectively target autoreactive plasma cells in autoimmune disease.

HEIDELBERG/PARIS, June 3rd 2024 – BioMed X, an independent German biomedical research institute, and Servier, an international independent pharmaceutical company, announce the start of a new research team at the BioMed X Institute in Heidelberg to develop innovative strategies for neutralizing autoreactive plasma cells in the context of autoimmune diseases. Current therapeutic strategies for autoimmune diseases primarily focus on broadly suppressing the immune response, with significant side effects. More importantly, none of these treatments address one of the root causes of the disease, the autoreactive plasma cells that produce antibodies targeting self-antigens. By exploring the deep biology of human autoreactive plasma cells to identify biomarkers that distinguish them from their physiological counterparts, this project aims to identify new therapeutic strategies to selectively eliminate these cells in patients suffering from autoimmune diseases.

The new research team will be led by Dr. Eleonora Melzi, an experienced immunologist with expertise in B cell and antibody responses during infection. “A major limitation in the current treatment of autoimmune diseases is the absence of targeted therapies against autoreactive plasma cells, which are central to the pathogenesis of these conditions. Our research will focus on characterizing these cells to identify specific biomarkers that distinguish autoreactive cells from protective ones. Our final goal is to discover therapeutic targets that can selectively eliminate these harmful plasma cells. I am excited to apply my knowledge and experience in B cell biology to advance the understanding and treatment of autoimmune diseases at BioMed X.”

Ross Jeggo, Global Head of Neuroscience and Immuno-inflammation Therapeutic Area at Servier: “BioMed X offers a unique opportunity, one that combines academic and industry research minds to develop innovative research strategies that can deliver transformative patient treatment options. As Servier looks towards its future, in neurology and beyond, partnerships like this with BioMed X will be invaluable in the identification of potential therapeutic solutions, including those involving autoimmune pathology.”

Christian Tidona, Founder and Managing Director of the BioMed X Institute: “Immunology – including autoimmunity – is one of our R&D focus areas at our BioMed X Institutes in Heidelberg, New Haven, and our XSeed Labs in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Before we started our collaboration with Servier, we were already hosting four immunology research teams at different stages of development in partnership with various international pharma partners. We are excited to extend our immunology research capabilities with this new project in the field of autoreactive plasma cells.”


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