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2013 News Archive

November 26, 2013

Budapest, Hungary, and Zug, Switzerland (Nov 26, 2013) – ImmunoGenes AG announced a strategic collaboration with Public Health England (PHE) to address unmet healthcare needs caused by the bacterium Clostridium difficile (C. difficile), including diarrhea, intestinal inflammation, and sometimes serious illness for which there is no effective treatment available.

C. difficile, is a world-wide scourge that causes problems for patients in hospitals where the use of antibiotics kills both good and bad bacteria in the gut. The disruption to the gut flora allows C. difficile to multiply, produce toxins and cause its characteristic symptoms of diarrhea, intestinal inflammation, and sometimes serious illness. The current circulating strains of C. difficile produce more than 30 variants of two different toxins, and new strains are continuously emerging. Treatment options for the severe disease are very limited; ImmunoGenes and PHE believe that there is considerable scope to improve the diagnostics for C. difficile infections.

Under this research collaboration, PHE will identify key targets on the C. difficile bacterium, and ImmunoGenes will generate antibodies against those targets using its proprietary FcRn-overexpressing transgenic (tg) mice that could be used as the basis for diagnostics and therapeutics against C. difficile. In particular, PHE will explore if monoclonal antibodies generated by ImmunoGenes’ tg mice could improve diagnostics for C. difficile infections. PHE will also assess if ImmunoGenes’ tg rabbits could produce superior polyclonal antibodies with enhanced antigenic diversity, yield and toxin neutralizing properties to treat these infections. Both projects will make use of PHE’s expertise and recombinant antigens and the FcRn tg mice and rabbits developed by ImmunoGenes that have demonstrated the ability to generate antibodies against difficult targets as a result of their improved antigen presentation.

Dr Seshadri Vasan, PHE’s senior business development manager for research and innovation, said: “Our objective through this collaboration is to assess if genetically modified animals could help develop better diagnostics and therapeutics for C. difficile infections which especially affects vulnerable people and results in 10 per cent mortality and around £0.5 billion annual cost to the NHS and $13 billion worldwide. This is a typical example of how PHE strives to achieve its mission through innovation and working with a range of organizations, including SMEs based outside the UK.”

“We are honored to enter into this strategic collaboration with Public Health England and are pleased to learn their interest in our unique antibody generating technology. This is yet another demonstration of the potentially significant impact our exciting technology could have on human health,” said Dr. Imre Kacskovics, Chief Scientific Advisor & Member of the Office of the Chief Executive of ImmunoGenes.

October 23, 2013

Budapest, Hungary, and Zug, Switzerland (Oct 23, 2013) – ImmunoGenes AG announced the publication of a paper describing that the company’s FcRn overexpressing rabbits produce a widely-used therapeutic antibody in much higher quantity and at a better quality than the technology currently in use. The article, entitled “Transgenic rabbits that overexpress the neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn) generate higher quantities and improved qualities of anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG),” was published in “PLoS One” on October 23, 2013. It is available to the public under the Open Access model of PLoS One.

“Transgenic rabbits expressing high levels of the neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn) provide a novel tool for producing large amounts of antigen-specific antibodies,” said Katherine L. Knight, Professor at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, and a world-renowned rabbit immunology expert. “Compared with wild-type rabbits, FcRn-transgenic rabbits can produce significantly more anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG), an immunomodulatory antibody widely used to treat transplant patients and patients with specific tumors. The anti-ATG generated also demonstrates over 2.5 times greater cytotoxicity, resulting in a nearly 4 times increase in cytotoxic effectiveness for antibody generated in these FcRn transgenic rabbits. The data also show that immunization of FcRn-transgenic rabbits produces high numbers of antigen-specific B cells, which will increase the efficiency of production of antigen-specific rabbit hybridomas. Because rabbits are widely known to produce high affinity antibody to numerous antigens, including carbohydrates, the FcRn transgenic rabbits have the potential to significantly increase the ease and cost-efficiency with which large amounts of specific antibodies can be generated.”

“The results of this study show the usefulness of our exciting technology to have a significant impact on human health,” said Imre Kacskovics, member of the Office of the Chief Executive of ImmunoGenes. “The ability of our genetically-modified animals to overcome the limitations in production of ATG and generate a more consistent and more potent product results in a significantly improved yield per animal. We estimate that the number of rabbits required to produce any given quantity of polyclonal Jurkat-specific ATG could be reduced by approximately 80%, significantly reducing inter-animal variability and reducing complexities of manufacturing-specific QC programs.”

October 14, 2013

Budapest, Hungary, and Zug, Switzerland (Oct 14, 2013) – ImmunoGenes AG announced the publication of a paper that provides additional explanation for the unique antibody-generating attributes observed in the company’s FcRn-overexpressing mice. The article, entitled “NFκB induces overexpression of bovine FcRn: A novel mechanism that further contributes to the enhanced immune response in genetically modified animals carrying extra copies of FcRn” offers detail on the causes behind the increased amount and diversity of antigen-specific antibodies. The article was published in the November/December 2013 issue of “mAbs”.

ImmunoGenes had previously published data showing that that overexpression of the neonatal Fc receptor for IgG (FcRn) leads to an increase in the humoral immune response, characterized by larger number of antigen-specific B cells, greater number and diversity of hybridomas, higher quantities and improved qualities of polyclonal antibodies, and the ability to produce antibodies against weakly immunogenic antigens. The company also previously published data that showed that a higher expressional level of FcRn in antigen presenting cells significantly augmented antigen presentation to T helper cells, boosting the humoral immune response. With the completion of the latest studies, ImmunoGenes has demonstrated a mechanism that further explains the enhanced immune response in its genetically modified mice.

“With these experiments, we could show that the level of bFcRn can be further increased in our Tg mice by NFκB induction in addition to the effect on the transcription of bFcRn via the multiple copies of the transgene,” said Judit Cervenak, senior scientist at ImmunoGenes. “This enabled us to conclude that NFκB signaling is an important regulatory factor for bFcRn, which was also shown on the human FcRn but not on mouse FcRn.”

“We are delighted to publish results showing that NFκB induction regulates and optimizes bFcRn expression and function in the professional antigen presenting cells,” said Imre Kacskovics, Chief Executive Officer of ImmunoGenes. “As a result, we have a better understanding about the mechanisms that contribute to the much augmented humoral immune response in the bFcRn Tg mice. This important study provides an important scientific explanation for the factors at play in the ability of our FcRn overexpressing mice to have the capability to produce antibodies to weakly immunogenic antigens.”

October 11, 2013

Budapest, Hungary (October 11, 2013) – ImmunoGenes announced the company has been presented with the “Award for Successful Enterprises” by the Hungarian Minister for National Economy Mihály Varga at a recent ceremony in Budapest.

Since August 2013, the Hungarian government has presented monthly awards in three categories – “Investor of the Month,” “SME of the Month,” and “Start-up of the Month” – with the aim of honoring and encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups operating in Hungary that contribute to economic growth and serve as role models for entrepreneurs in Hungary.

“It would be impossible for the Hungarian economy to make headway without innovation, development and production of added value,” according to Mihály Varga, the Minister for National Economy. “As a result, it is necessary for innovative ideas to develop into commercial enterprises and become an organic part of Hungary’s economy. Through these awards, the Government intends to draw attention to the fact enterprises can achieve success in Hungary.”

“We are delighted to be recognized as ‘Start-up of the Month’ for our exciting technology in the field of Immunology that allows for the production of unique antibodies that can be useful in combating disease and as valuable research tools for scientists in Hungary and around the world,” said Imre Kacskovics, a member of the Office of the Chief Executive of ImmunoGenes. “We are grateful for the continued support of the Hungarian government and of our outstanding Budapest region-based staff of six immunology experts, including four PhDs, who are internationally acknowledged professionals.”

September 16, 2013

Budapest, Hungary, and New York (September 16, 2013) – ImmunoGenes AG has announced the initiation of a collaboration between ImmunoGenes and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) focused on the development of antibodies.

Under the collaboration, MGH will identify key targets in hematological cancers, and ImmunoGenes will generate antibodies against those targets using its proprietary FcRn-overexpressing transgenic (tg) mice. MGH, including scientists David Sykes, MD, PhD, and David Scadden, MD, has previously published extensively on hematological diseases, including acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Similarly, ImmunoGenes has previously published at length on the ability of its FcRn tg mice to generate antibodies against difficult targets as a result of their improved antigen presentation and generation of increased antibody diversity.

“We are delighted by the interest of The Massachusetts General Hospital in our unique antibody generating technology,” said Imre Kacskovics, Chief Executive Officer of ImmunoGenes. “We are excited to have the opportunity to work with well-respected scientists like David Sykes and David Scadden, who are leaders in the emerging area of using novel approaches to address difficult to treat blood diseases.”

“We are very pleased to have the opportunity to work with ImmunoGenes in the development of antibodies against challenging antigens,” said David Sykes, a hematologist in the MGH Cancer Center. “Our focus is on finding ways to identify highly specific antibodies that can advance our research into the treatment of malignant blood disorders – and ultimately help patients and families.”

August 1, 2013

In case you missed the Immunogenes webinar, describing the company’s technology that uses transgenic animals that overexpress FcRn to generate a great diversity of antigen-specific antibodies because of FcRn's role in antigen presentation, watch the program above and learn how the company's animals are often able to generate polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies against targets that do not generate antibodies in normal animals, a major advantage for researchers seeking novel antibodies.

June 18, 2013

Budapest, Hungary, and Zug, Switzerland (June 18, 2013) – ImmunoGenes AG announced that the company has generated new data demonstrating that the company’s transgenic mice that overexpress the neonatal Fc receptor for IgG (FcRn) are capable of producing substantially greater numbers of activated antigen specific T-cells and larger germinal centers in the spleen in comparison with immunized wild-type mice. These new observations provide supporting evidence for the mechanisms that enable the company’s patented transgenic mice to generate an elevated antibody-based immune response and increased diversity against weakly immunogenic antigens.

In these experiments, the FcRn-overexpressing showed at least double the number of antigen-specific T-helper cells in the spleen when compared with wild-type mice, following immunization with ovalbumin. In addition, the germinal centers within the spleen were found to be at least double the size of those observed in wild-type mice and were strongly positive for FcRn expression as demonstrated by anti-FcRn monoclonal antibody staining, suggesting that FcRn has a direct effect on B cell activation.

In these experiments, the FcRn-overexpressing showed at least double the number of antigen-specific T-helper cells in the spleen when compared with wild-type mice, following immunization with ovalbumin. In addition, the germinal centers within the spleen were found to be at least double the size of those observed in wild-type mice and were strongly positive for FcRn expression as demonstrated by anti-FcRn monoclonal antibody staining, suggesting that FcRn has a direct effect on B cell activation.

About ImmunoGenes

ImmunoGenes AG is a biopharmaceutical company incorporated in Zug, Switzerland, with primary operation in Hungary that specializes in the generation of transgenic animals for medical use. ImmunoGenes' proprietary technology allows for the production of genetically-modified animals that over-express a receptor called the neonatal Fc receptor for IgG (FcRn). ImmunoGenes has shown that increased levels of this receptor augment the immune response, resulting in a significantly enhanced formation and diversity, as well as quality and quantity of antibodies. ImmunoGenes was founded in 2008 around novel concepts that initially came from the Eötvös Loránd University and Agricultural Biotechnology Center in Hungary.

June 11, 2013

Zug, Switzerland, and Budapest, Hungary (June 11, 2013) – ImmunoGenes AG announced the formation of a joint venture between ImmunoGenes and Corvinus Kockázati Tőkealap-kezelő Zrt. (The Corvinus Venture Capital Fund Manager) that will fund the establishment of a world-class scientific facility for the development and production of monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies and genetically modified animals in Gödöllő, Hungary.

The joint venture, which will be called ImmunoGenes-ABS Zrt, will provide funding for production capabilities for the ImmunoGenes programs that are known as Customized Antibody Solutions and Customized Transgenic Solutions. Customized Antibody Solutions (CAS) utilizes IMG-AbS™ is a technology to improve the immune response using genetically-modified mice and rabbits. Because of this genetic modification, ImmunoGenes’ animals overexpress the neonatal Fc receptor for IgG (FcRn), and as a result, they produce a great diversity of antigen-specific antibodies and are able to mount a strong immune response against weakly immunogenic targets because of FcRn's role in antigen presentation. This means that the company’s animals are often able to generate antibodies against targets that do not generate antibodies in normal animals, a major advantage for companies seeking novel antibodies. Customized Transgenic Solutions (CTS) creates novel transgenic rats and rabbits for commercial purposes for customers using these unique animals to study and develop diagnostics and therapeutics against a variety of challenging diseases.

ImmunoGenes and Corvinus, through its Corvinus Első Innovációs Kockázati Tőkealap (CELIN; Corvinus First Innovation Venture Capital Fund), will provide equity capital of HUF 60 million (CHF 250,000) in order to fund the start-up of the new venture. In addition, CELIN will provide a first loan of an additional HUF 60 million (CHF 250,000) in order to finance the capital expenditures needed to equip the laboratory to a high standard.

The new facilities established under the joint venture will include more than 2,000 square feet of lab space with state-of the art equipment as well as animal housing with minimal disease (MD) and specified pathogen free (SPF) conditions that meet the highest international standards for antibody development and for the production and creation of transgenic animals. The funding of the new facilities will also result in the hiring of several new scientists and technicians, the number of which will increase with the growth of the facility over time.

“We are delighted by the opportunity to work with a leading Hungarian financial institution like Corvinus that seeks to promote the development of cutting-edge small and medium sized enterprises in Hungary,” said Dr. Tonio Barlage, Chief Financial Advisor of ImmunoGenes. “We are excited to have the opportunity to build and staff a showcase facility that demonstrates the capability of our Hungarian-developed technology and that will create world-class products that will be marketed to leading pharmaceutical and antibody development companies around the globe.”

About Corvinus

Corvinus Kockázati Tőkealap-kezelő Zrt. (The Corvinus Venture Capital Fund Manager) is a division of the state-owned Hungarian Development Bank Group that is focused on promoting the development of innovative small and medium-sized companies through venture capital fund investment in Hungary. The first fund, Corvinus Venture Capital Fund Innovation (CELI), was established in October 2005 with a registered capital of $5 billion. The second actively managed fund, which currently operates under the name of ELAN, has a share capital of nearly $5 billion.

June 3, 2013

Zug, Switzerland, and Budapest, Hungary (June 3, 2013) – ImmunoGenes AG announced today that the company will present an update on the company, including the history of the vision behind the creation of ImmunoGenes along with up-to-date details on its recent growth in Budapest on Thursday, June 13, 2013, at 6pm at the Academy Club, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 9 István Széchenyi Square. Friends and supporters of the company, along with members of the scientific community who are interested in learning more about the company’s unique technology that uses proprietary mice and rabbits to generate antibodies against targets that do not generate antibodies in normal animals, are welcome to join.

Imre Kacskovics, CEO and scientific co-founder of ImmunoGenes, along with the rest of the management team will present information about the opportunity in today’s robust biotechnology market for a company like ImmunoGenes that has developed genetically engineered animals that overexpress the neonatal Fc receptor for IgG (FcRn) and thus are able to generate diverse antigen-specific antibodies, which form the basis of development of novel drugs, diagnostics and research tools.

“We are particularly excited to be providing an update at this time to our investors, investment partners, scientific collaborators and others interested in the company,” said Dr. Kacskovics. “We also look forward to announcing a new, important collaboration with a major Hungarian institution at this event.”

“Our company’s proprietary technology that facilitates an improved immune response will lead to important advances in the development of critical drugs and diagnostics,” added Wolfgang Oster, Chairman of ImmunoGenes. “Given the impressive valuations that the market has awarded for game changing technologies and therapies, we are pleased to be working both leading academic institutions and well-known global pharmaceutical companies to develop novel therapeutic and diagnostic antibodies that can form the basis of game-changing treatments and tests.”

Individuals and companies interested in joining this event should contact Lee Schalop, Chief Operating Advisor and Head of Business Development, at schalop@immunogenes.com.

March 6, 2013

Zug, Switzerland, and Budapest, Hungary (March 6, 2013) – ImmunoGenes AG announced today that the company has been selected to present a poster describing its technology at the American Association of Immunology Centennial Annual Meeting on Sunday, May 5, 2013, at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu.

Imre Kacskovics, CEO and scientific co-founder of ImmunoGenes, will present the poster entitled “FcRn overexpression in transgenic animals results in a robust immune response,” describing how the company’s genetically engineered animals that overexpress the neonatal Fc receptor for IgG (FcRn) generate diverse antigen-specific antibodies and are thus able to mount a stronger immune response against weakly immunogenic targets aided by FcRn's role in antigen presentation. Dr. Kacskovics will be available to answer questions regarding the technology during his poster presentation at the AAI Centennial meeting. In addition, parties interested in meeting with Dr. Kacskovics on an individual basis should contact Lee Schalop at schalop @ immunogenes.com.

“We are particularly excited to be presenting at this year’s AAI,” said Dr. Kacskovics. “Our company’s proprietary technology facilitates an improved immune response and will lead to important advances in the development of critical drugs and diagnostics. This we believe fits perfectly with the AAI mission of featuring cutting edge, scientific developments in the field of immunology.”

Lee Schalop, COO of ImmunoGenes, added: “ImmunoGenes has recently signed agreements with both academic institutions and large pharmaceutical companies providing these organizations with the ability of using the company’s animals for the development of antibodies against targets that do not generate antibodies in wild-type animals. This presents a major advantage for researchers seeking to develop novel therapeutic or diagnostic antibodies. Introducing our technology at the AAI will allow more organizations to benefit from the company’s unique technology.”

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February 11, 2013

Zug, Switzerland, and Budapest, Hungary (February 11, 2013) – ImmunoGenes AG announces the incorporation of ImmunoGenes-ABS Zrt in Gödöllő, Hungary, as a fully owned subsidiary that will formalize the development and production of monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies for a commercial program entitled “Customized Antibody Solutions” (CAS).

The CAS program utilizes the company’s IMG-AbS™ technology, based on ImmunoGenes’ genetically-modified mice and rabbits that overexpress the neonatal Fc receptor for IgG (FcRn). This proprietary FcRn technology platform (see www.immunogenes.com for more information) has reproducibly shown superior performance in addressing difficult antigens and has enabled several customers to remedy their unmet need for such antibodies. As a result, since the inception of the company’s CAS program, a lot of attention has been received from researchers in industry and academia who have not succeeded in developing antibodies against difficult targets such as small peptides, highly conserved domains of proteins or other non-immunogenic structures such as antigens for oncology and infectious diseases.

The new subsidiary company will also create novel transgenic animals for commercial purposes under the company’s ”Customized Transgenic Solutions” program.

The facilities accessible to Immunogenes-ABS Zrt include more than 2000 square feet of lab space with state-of the art equipment as well as animal housing with minimal disease (MD) and specified pathogen free (SPF) conditions that meet the highest international standards for antibody development, production and creation of transgenic animals.

Heading up the new facility is Istvan Kurucz, PhD, who recently joined the ImmunoGenes leadership team. Dr. Kurucz completed a remarkable education in some of the best academic groups in the field of molecular immunology, including Janos Gergely’s group at the Immunology Department of Lorand Eotvos University of Sciences in Budapest and the Experimental Immunology Branch of the US National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, where he spent 5 years working on the creation of recombinant antibodies and T-cell receptors. Thereafter Dr. Kurucz transitioned into the pharmaceutical/biotechnology industry and worked for several companies in senior positions, including BSI, TEVA, IVAX and Biorex.

“We are delighted by the response to our FcRn technology that we have received from scientific leaders in our industry. It enables us to offer customized products and solutions for our biopharma and biotech clients and their sophisticated projects. Having a skilled person like Istvan at the helm of this novel unit is a testimony to the quality of our technology. Istvan’s track record of taking part in the creation of more than 1000 antibodies adds a tremendous body of experience to our capabilities and assures our customers of highest quality and professionalism,” said Wolfgang Oster, MD PhD, Chairman of the Board of ImmunoGenes.

“I am delighted that someone with the credentials of Istvan has joined our endeavor in offering our technology to customers in need of solutions. Istvan is a recognized authority in the antibody field and represents the reassurance our customers are looking for when they entrust us with their projects“, said Imre Kacskovics, DVM, PhD, Vice Chairman and CEO of Immunogenes.

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