The Northwestern startup Temprian Therapeutics has been accepted to this spring’s Science to Startup (S2S) expo in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This invitation-only event will put 12 startups in front of 150 pharmaceutical investors on the 23rd of April. This is an important step in bringing a novel treatment for the depigmentation disorder vitiligo closer to the market place. To date there is no cure for this disease, that causes depigmentation in almost 3 million people in the US alone.
Vitiligo is a depigmentation disorder that affects 0.5 – 1% of the population. There is no cure for the disease to date.
The therapy at hand has been incubated at Loyola and Northwestern Universities.The concept was originally promoted to S2S by INVO (Innovations and New Ventures) at Northwestern. The competition received 170 applications from across the globe, which speaks volumes to the rigor of the process.
The proposed therapy is built on years of research by the laboratory of Professor Caroline Le Poole. In vitiligo, stress in patient skin cells triggers the production of large amounts of the heat shock protein HSP70i. Once released from affected cells, HSP70i causes recruitment of T cells to form an immune response. In people with a genetic disposition to vitiligo, the immune response results in the elimination of pigment cells. As a result their skin gradually turns white. This process has proven very difficult to permanently reverse.
The Le Poole lab has developed a variant of the HSP70i protein that tempers ongoing immune responses. Injected into the skin in DNA format, modified HSP70i tempers the activity of T cells, allowing the safe return of pigment cells. To date the treatment has been shown to reverse vitiligo in 2 live disease models. Temprian Therapeutics is focused on taking the therapy to clinical trials.
Starting March 15, Temprian is hosted by the life science incubator MATTER in Chicago. “The support we received from the INVO Forward, MATTER, and S2S programs create an excellent scaffolding to launch a successful startup”, says Temprian’s CEO Kettil Cedercreutz.
Disclaimer: The information on this blog is intended for orientation purposes only. For medical treatment options please consult your dermatologist.