Stallergenes, Stanford pen allergy immunotherapy pact

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Stallergenes Greer (EPA:GENP) and Stanford University have teamed up to look for biomarkers of peanut oral immunotherapy efficacy. The transatlantic biopharma is working with a research center bankrolled by Napster founder Sean Parker to figure out which patients are likely to respond to oral immunotherapies against peanut allergies.

Oral immunotherapy entails giving people who are allergic to peanuts small doses of protein from the edible seeds. The idea is to desensitize patients to peanuts, freeing them from the risk exposure to a small amount of protein will trigger an allergic reaction. While the approach has its critics, data from NIH-funded trials suggest it can protect kids from the anaphylaxis that would otherwise result from coming into contact with the protein.

Now, Stanford and Stallergenes are pooling their resources to find biomarkers that correlate to the efficacy of peanut oral immunotherapy. Stallergenes primarily develops immunotherapies against respiratory allergies but has aspirations to expand into food. These aspirations have led Stallergenes to identify biomarkers in peanut-allergic patients who undergo immunotherapy. The Stanford team will help to evaluate the biomarkers.

Showing which patients will respond to oral immunotherapy could offer Stallergenes a way into the peanut allergy field. Oral immunotherapies have risen in parallel to the advance of more traditional experimental candidates from Aimmune Therapeutics and DBV Technologies. To date, Stallergenes has lacked a role in any of the competing approaches. Aimmune and DBV, respectively, have oral and patch-administered peanut immunotherapies in Phase III.

Stallergenes has turned to a relatively new Stanford research center to support its attempt to carve out a niche. The Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research was created in 2014 following a $24 million pledge from the eponymous Silicon Valley pioneer.

Parker has made his name in life sciences over the past seven months by committing $250 million (€233 million) to the creation of an immuno-oncology center and funding the first CRISPR clinical trial. But he cut his teeth in life sciences philanthropy with a string of smaller, lower-profile grants, including the Stanford pledge.