Joining Forces to Accelerate the Development of Immune System Treatments

To accelerate the development of treatments directed at autoimmunity, the process by which the body mistakenly attacks its own cells and tissues, JDRF has joined forces with two new partners in an innovative collaboration. JDRF is partnering with Fast Forward, LLC – the drug-development arm of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society – and Axxam SpA, an Italian company that conducts early-stage discovery research. Axxam will screen its extensive chemical library for compounds that can target immune system “ion channels,” the tiny protein pores on the surface of cells that control the flow of charged particles. Studies have found that immune cells in multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes, both of which are autoimmune diseases, contain high levels of a specific ion channel. Hyperactivity of this channel contributes to the dysfunction of the immune system in both disorders. Axxam is looking to identify compounds that affect the channel—and to develop them as potential therapies. The agreement is the first of its kind between patient advocacy organizations focused on different diseases.