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PROOF positive about working with Adiga
May 2012
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author


VANCOUVER, British Columbia—Under a collaboration between the PROOF Centre and Adiga Life Sciences that was formalized in early April, the two organizations will now engage in biomarker discovery work to identify proteins and genes that are responsive to vaccine treatment.  
Adiga, a joint venture between Canada's McMaster University and United Kingdom-based biopharmaceutical company Circassia, is focused on developing and commercializing Canadian allergy-related research in medical science and technology. Adiga is currently conducting a clinical trial in collaboration with investigators from the AllerGen NCE Inc. network, headquartered at McMaster University, to collect blood samples from patients with allergic rhinitis who are receiving treatment with an investigational peptide allergy vaccine. These samples will be applied to a biomarker discovery and validation program that has been established and refined by the PROOF Centre, a not-for-profit organization that develops and implements biomarker tests to better manage patients with organ failure and to prevent disease progression.  
"We are excited that the biomarker pipeline we have been refining over the last seven years will play a critical part in the discovery of biomarkers related to peptide allergy vaccines," said Dr. Bruce McManus, director of the PROOF Centre, in the official statement about the collaboration. "More importantly, once these biomarkers have been discovered, we will be able to develop diagnostic tests that will support the development of products for quicker relief from allergy symptoms as well as for more effective clinical management of those suffering from allergic rhinitis."  
Typical symptoms of allergic rhinitis include a scratchy throat, sneezing, itching and watery eyes, and although these seem like minor irritations to many people, they can lead to significant debilitation from early spring through the end of autumn—sometimes year-round depending on the type of allergy—and can impair not just quality of life, but also productivity at work or school.  
"As many as 10 million Canadians suffer from seasonal allergies, and I believe that the work we are undertaking with the PROOF Centre will advance our understanding of immunotherapy and ultimately bring significant benefits to this population," said Dr. Pascal Hickey, managing director of Adiga Life Sciences, in an official statement. "The identification of the biomarkers will allow us to better understand the science underlying the effectiveness of peptide allergy vaccines."  
"We saw this collaboration as a way to take full advantage of the strengths of both parties," Dr. Rhonda Wideman, biomarker development manager for the PROOF Centre, explains to ddn. "Adiga, through its relationship with industry and McMaster University, brings significant industrial, clinical and research expertise in allergic rhinitis and allergy vaccines, and an impressive bank of patient samples appropriate for biomarker discovery. PROOF Centre brings a strong and proven pipeline for untargeted biomarker discovery and development. The time was right because we recognized an overlap in our strategic interests and several clearly defined small projects that we could initiate work on very quickly."  
Talks about a collaboration began roughly a year ago, Dr. Scott Tebbutt, chief scientific officer for the PROOF Centre, tells ddn. Adiga and the PROOF Centre have not worked directly together in the past, Tebbutt explains, but researchers associated with both organizations have previously worked together through AllerGen on research programs related to allergic rhinitis.  
Introductions were facilitated by Judah Denberg, scientific director and CEO of AllerGen, and Dr. Mark Larché, a professor of clinical immunology and allergy at McMaster University and Canada research chair in allergy and immune tolerance, Tebbutt recalls.  
"Adiga put out an RFP for biomarker discovery work, PROOF Centre was invited to apply and ultimately we crafted a collaborative work agreement rather than a contract service agreement," he says.  
Although this collaboration is only just beginning, Adiga and the PROOF Centre have identified several other potential areas for future collaboration, Tebbutt says, such as the discovery of genomic biomarkers in subsets of T cells targeted by peptide allergy vaccines. Also, they may consider validation of biomarkers of peptide allergy vaccines using different technology platforms in timecourse samples taken from larger, independent patient cohorts, and in the longer term, potentially development and testing of biomarker-based molecular tests for predicting allergy vaccine efficacy in individual patients. Finally, they may consider the extension of biomarker discovery to other Adiga studies being conducted by AllerGen investigators through AllerGen's Allergic Rhinitis-Clinical Investigator Collaborative.
"There is a large and growing unmet need for better treatments for allergic rhinitis," Wideman says, looking at the value of the current collaboration. "We saw this collaboration as a way to increase our understanding of the biological basis of allergic rhinitis and its resolution through allergy vaccine treatment. Over the longer term, we envision that our joint work may enable quicker development of more efficacious allergy vaccines, help identify novel vaccine targets and lead to the development of new diagnostics to identify patients who might benefit most from peptide allergy vaccine therapy."
Code: E051220



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