Amino Acid Copolymers: Therapeutic Promise for New Vaccines, Multiple Sclerosis & Other Neurodegenerative Diseases

Thursday, March 21 2013
8:00 am – 10:00 am

Location: MassBio, 300 Technology Square, 8th Floor, Cambridge, MA

Drug Discovery Forum


Masha Fridkis-Hareli PhD, Founder & President, ATR LLC, will discuss:

‘Novel Amino Acid Copolymers for Treatment of Autoimmune Diseases’

Copolymer 1 (Cop 1, Copaxone), a random amino acid copolymer of tyrosine (Y), glutamic acid (E), alanine (A), and lysine (K), reduces the frequency of relapses by 30% in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. In quest for more efficient therapies, novel random copolymers were designed based on the structure of Copaxone and of the immunodominant epitope of myelin basic protein implicated in MS. In vitro and in vivo testing of these novel copolymers, carried out at Harvard University, revealed inhibitory activity which was superior to Copaxone.

 Eric Zanelli PhD, President R&D, Declion Pharmaceuticals, will present:

‘Copaxone and other amino acid copolymers: from their mechanisms of action to the design of new vaccines and immunomodulators’

Copaxone (glatiramer acetate) is an amino acid copolymer and the most prescribed first-line therapy for Multiple Sclerosis. We have previously engineered an improved amino acid copolymer PI-2301 (plovamer acetate), now developed by Merck Serono. We are presently using our understanding of the mechanism of action of these two compounds to manufacture antigen-specific amino acid copolymers, so-called declensional peptides, for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and new vaccines for infectious diseases. In this short presentation, we will provide an overview of our technology.


Speaker bios:

Dr. Fridkis-Hareli, Ph.D. is an immunologist, consultant and inventor with over 20 years of experience in academia and industry. She holds a B.A. in Biology from the Technion, the Israeli Institute of Technology, an M.Sc. in Molecular Microbiology from Hebrew University and a Ph.D. in Immunology from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. During her post-doctoral training at Harvard University she designed and developed a group of novel compounds for treatment of autoimmune diseases currently in Phase II clinical trials. From 2001 to 2005, Dr. Fridkis-Hareli served as Principal Investigator at the Molecular Immunology Foundation at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. From 2006 through 2012, Dr. Fridkis-Hareli held a variety of positions with increasing responsibilities at a number of biotechnology and contract research companies including Resolvyx Pharmaceuticals, Charles River Laboratories, Taligen Therapeutics and Alexion Pharmaceuticals. Her areas of expertise include autoimmune disease models, protein- and cell-based assays, flow cytometry and preclinical immunotoxicology. Dr. Fridkis-Hareli is a co-author of over 100 publications and 13 issued patents. She is an Adjunct Professor at the Graduate Biopharmaceutical Leadership Program at Emmanuel College and a Founder and President of ATR, LLC, providing strategic and operational services in translational research. In addition to her professional affiliations, Masha is actively involved on boards of several women’s professional organizations and has recently served as President of the Association for Women in Science in Massachusetts.

Eric H. Zanelli, Ph.D. co-founded Déclion Pharmaceuticals and Déclion SAS in 2011. Eric has twenty years of experience in leading research and development organizations in the life sciences and academia. Eric is an immunologist, pharmacologist and molecular biologist by training, very much interested in peptides as pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines. He is the inventor of the Directed Expansion of Epitope Permutations (DEEP) platform. Prior to Déclion, Eric served as the Vice President, Research and Development at Peptimmune, Inc., where he developed PI-2301, aka Plovamer, a random sequence amino acid copolymer for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. PI-2301 was acquired in 2011 by Merck-Serono and is entering phase 2 clinical trial. Eric previously held positions as a Senior Scientist at Praecis Pharmaceuticals, Project Leader at Cardion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and as an Assistant Professor at the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands. Eric is from Marseille, France, received his doctorate in Immunology from the University of Luminy, and completed post-doctoral training at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

Share MassBio