Anti-IL-25 antibody for allergic asthma
In 2010 Andrew McKenzie‘s group identified a new immune cell type, the ‘nuocyte’, which can orchestrate the initiation of allergic asthma.
Asthma currently affects 5.4 million people in the UK. The NHS spends £1 billion per year on asthma treatments to control symptoms, but quality of life can still be affected and for some sufferers the treatments don’t work at all.
Previous research had shown the underlying allergic asthma response to be dependent on protein ‘interleukins’ (‘IL’) that are released as cellular messengers, telling immune cells where to go and how to act. In particular, IL-13 is a key part of the response, critical for airway narrowing and inflammation. While previously it was thought that the crucial source of IL-13 was T lymphocytes, Andrew McKenzie’s team were able to show that nuocytes are also an important source of IL-13 during the asthma response.
Further research by Andrew McKenzie’s group showed that the development of nuocytes is greatly dependent on the cytokine IL-25, which opened up the possibility of developing an anti-IL-25 therapeutic.
Working in collaboration with MRCT, the team produced a high affinity humanised version of an anti-IL-25 monoclonal antibody, which was licensed for further development to Janssen Biotech Inc. in the US.