New research, same mission: ‘improve human health’

By Harold Ambler
Contributing Writer
If “immunoinformatics” ever becomes a household word, the team at Providence’s EpiVax Inc., led by CEO Dr. Anne S. De Groot, will likely be a central reason why. More

To continue reading this article, please do one of the following.

Health Matters

New research, same mission: ‘improve human health’

EPI CENTER: EpiVax founder and CEO Anne S. De Groot described herself as a “physician [who wants] to make products that help human health everywhere.”
By Harold Ambler
Contributing Writer
Posted 1/13/14

If “immunoinformatics” ever becomes a household word, the team at Providence’s EpiVax Inc., led by CEO Dr. Anne S. De Groot, will likely be a central reason why.

Immunoinformatics refers to the combination of conventional immunological work done in the lab, with “informatics,” the processing of huge troves of DNA and other protein-based data, to custom-design vaccines and therapeutic responses to disease.

Using proprietary software, EpiVax – which last month announced a research partnership with a German company, Biotest AG – battles a wide range of public-health problems. On the roster of diseases and conditions at the top of the company’s list in the past 12 months have been: the H7N9 flu strain in China, Pompe disease (a life-threatening buildup of glycogen in the muscles), hemophilia A, multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes and allergy.

Depending on the illness, and depending on whether it is being treated or prevented, EpiVax’s goal is either to trigger a specific response in the immune system or to prevent the immune system from getting involved in the first place.

For instance, for those with hemophilia A, a coagulant known as Factor VIII was first thought to be a yearned-for cure of the disease, and for some it was. A blood-clotting protein concentrated from donated blood plasma, Factor VIII gives hemophiliacs the ability to lead relatively normal lives, albeit burdened by injections, including, for certain patients (particularly children), IV ports. For some people being treated with the harvested Factor VIII, though, the therapy eventually produced an immune response that made the treatment stop working.

The promise of immunoinformatics is to step into a conundrum such as that presented by Factor VIII therapy rejection and make the treatment safe. That involves the introduction of Tregitopes, a sequence of amino acids that serves as an immune-system “off switch.” Biotest AG, which specializes in immunology and hematology, is partnering with EpiVax to pursue the creation of the safer Factor VIII product, in recognition of EpiVax’s cutting-edge work in the field.

Next Page
PBN Hosted

Join PBN for the best networking event and party of the winter - January 15, 2015 - the Book of Lists Party at the Providence Public Library. Reserve your spot early!
  • Best Places to Work
    Enrollment is now open for the 7th annual Best Places to Work program. Winners w ...
  • Manufacturing Awards
    Applications are now being accepted for the 2nd Annual Manufacturing Awards. Dea ...
Purchase Data
Book of Lists
Book of Lists cover
PBN's annual Book of Lists has been an essential resource for the local business community for almost 30 years. The Book of Lists features a wealth of company rankings from a variety of fields and industries, including banking, health care, real estate, law, hospitality, education, not-for-profits, technology and many more.
Data icons
Data can be purchased as single lists, in either Excel or PDF format; the entire database of the published book, in Excel format; or a printed copy of the Book of Lists.
  • Purchase an e-File of a single list
  • Purchase an e-File of the entire Book of Lists database
  • Purchase a printed copy of the Book of Lists
    Latest News