Desentum, a biopharmaceutical company developing next generation immunotherapy to fight allergies, has been awarded a £1.7m grant from the European Innovation Council pilot SME Instrument for a project titled AllergyVAX.
The two-and-a-half-year project, starting at the end of 2018, includes early clinical trials of Desentum’s lead product candidate, an immunotherapeutic vaccine for birch pollen allergy.
Allergen immunotherapy usually takes several years but Desentum aims at reducing the time to 3–6 months without compromising safety and efficacy. Desentum’s approach is based on using targeted DNA techniques to modify known allergens into so-called hypoallergens.
The hypoallergens are expected to improve the safety of allergen immunotherapy and to enable faster initiation of immunological mechanisms that will protect from allergy. The model has been tested in laboratory conditions. The first-in-human clinical trials scheduled to start in autumn 2019 are designed to provide information about the safety and immunological effect of the hypoallergen in allergic patients.
Desentum’s CEO Pekka Mattila commented: “The main objective of the AllergyVAX project is to gain first-in-human clinical data of the birch pollen allergy vaccine. It is an important step towards the clinical Proof-of Concept of our platform technology and the grant helps us reach that goal faster.
“Also, competition for the public SME Instrument funding is extremely tough and Desentum being recognised as one of the most promising SMEs in Europe gives a very positive signal to both our current business partners and potential future collaborators.”