PolyTherics Ltd, which specialises in engineering protein-based drugs to improve delivery, has set up a collaboration with Anisur Rahman at UCL, in which the company will use its proprietary site-specific PEGylation to develop a treatment for antiphospholipid syndrome. Rahman has been awarded a 5-year grant of nearly £700,000 from the charity Arthritis Research UK to support the work.
Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), also known as ‘sticky blood’ syndrome, is an autoimmune disease that particularly affects young people and causes blood clots, strokes or recurrent miscarriages. It occurs more commonly in patients with autoimmune rheumatic diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus. Patients with APS have antibodies to their own phospholipid, which bind to phospholipid-protein complexes in the body. This is thought to trigger changes that affect blood clotting.
Rahman and the UCL team have developed proteins that block the binding of anti-phospholipid antibodies to phospholipid-protein complexes in the bloodstream. The next step is to improve the characteristics of these proteins so that they circulate in the body for longer whilst retaining their ability to block this binding.
PolyTherics’ proprietary site-specific PEGylation technology is designed to achieve this and its scientists will work with the UCL team to produce PEGylated versions of the proteins, which will then be tested by Rahman’s group.
Keith Powell, CEO of PolyTherics, said, “The challenge for many potential protein-based treatments is getting them to remain in the body long enough to have a therapeutic effect. We are excited to be working with Professor Rahman to achieve this for a much-needed treatment for this serious but still under-diagnosed condition.”