New discovery provides a basis for the development of more effective vaccines against infectious disease and cancer
MONTREAL - September 24 2003 - Université de Montréal, the Montreal Proteomics Network and Caprion Pharmaceuticals Inc announced today the publication of an important new medical discovery in the September 25th issue of the prestigious journal Nature. A team of scientists from the Department of Pathology and Cell biology of Université de Montréal, the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and Caprion Pharmaceuticals Inc, led by Dr. Michel Desjardins, have made discoveries that have the potential to advance the development of new vaccines for treatment of infectious disease and cancer.
Infected cells and cancerous cells are detected and eliminated by the immune system when white blood cells (cytotoxic 'killer' T-cells) are specifically activated to recognize these "aberrant cells". The findings published this week in Nature describe a newly identified cellular mechanism for killer T-cell activation. After the capture and processing of pathogens, fragments of these are ‘presented' to killer T-cells. Through this antigen ‘presentation', killer T-cells are able to recognize cells that are infected or "aberrant", as in cancer. The publication by Houde et al., "Phagosomes are competent organelles for antigen cross-presentation", describes a new mechanism for antigen presentation that occurs following association of the phagosome (an organelle involved in protein and pathogen degradation) with the endoplasmic reticulum (an organelle involved in protein synthesis and antigen presentation). In particular, these findings are significant in that this new pathway may be as much as 10,000 times more efficient than pathways described previously for the processing of pathogens and circulating tumor antigens, enabling faster and stronger activation of an immune response. This property may provide a basis for the development of vaccines with significantly improved therapeutic efficacy.
"The success of Dr. Desjardins' laboratory in generating valuable and unexpected insights into one of the body's basic defense mechanisms is a clear demonstration of the power of subcellular proteomics" states Caprion's Chief Scientific Officer, Daniel Chelsky. "Proteomic analysis of highly purified sub-cellular organelles provides answers to questions related to the biology of cells and their response to disease. Even as the tools are being developed in the field of proteomics, the impact of this new technology is proving to be substantial."
"This is an exciting and unanticipated revelation about a centrally important biologic process", added Dr. Alex Mackenzie, Vice-President, Research at Genome Canada. "A detailed understanding of how our immune system responds to viruses and bacteria is of obvious importance. But, in addition to this, the work of Dr. Desjardin and his team will likely help in our comprehension of those diseases in which the immune system turns on the body, disorders such as type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis, possibly leading the way to new therapeutic approaches".
"Dr Desjardins and his team have moved one step further our understanding of the fundamental process by which macrophages destroy infectious agents" argued Guy Bellemare, Genome Quebec's Chief Scientific Officer. "By revealing how precisely phagosomes, inside macrophages, produce the peptides that stimulate the proliferation of lymphocytes T, this research open up unforeseen pharmacological avenues for modulating this process, to create pioneering therapies for infectious diseases and cancer."
Dr. Michel Desjardins holds a Canada Research Chair in Cellular Microbiology at the Université de Montréal. His work is supported by Genome Canada, Genome Québec, Caprion Pharmaceuticals Inc, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
About Université de Montréal
Université de Montréal is a leader among major research universities. With its two affiliated schools, the École Polytechnique and the École des HEC, its campus is the largest in Québec. It offers undergraduate, masters and doctoral level programs in almost all areas of knowledge, has more than 50,000 students and awards more than 2,500 master's and doctorate degrees every year. It ranks second among universities in Canada in terms of research funding and first for research grants per professor. Université de Montréal is committed to developing new knowledge and transmitting existing expertise.
About Caprion Pharmaceuticals
Caprion Pharmaceuticals is a leader in proteomics-based drug discovery. The Company's proprietary technology platform comprehensively profiles human tissues and serum by integrating proprietary organelle isolation and sample decomplexification, quantitative mass spectrometry, and advanced bioinformatics. Its drug discovery programs are focused on Tumor Antigen Discovery, Biomarker Discovery, and Compound Mechanism of Action elucidation. Recently, Caprion announced research collaborations with Wyeth (NYSE: WYE) and AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN). In addition, Caprion announced a collaboration in September 2002 with IDEC Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: IDPH) to use its protein profiling technology to identify tumor antigen targets for colon cancer. The Company has also partnered products for Mad Cow Disease and variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease diagnostics, in development with IDEXX Laboratories and Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics. For more on Caprion, see www.caprion.com.
About Genome Canada
Genome Canada is the primary funding and information resource relating to genomics and proteomics in Canada. Dedicated to developing and implementing a national strategy in genomics and proteomics research for the benefit of all Canadians, it has so far received $375 million from the Government of Canada. Together with its five Genome Centres and with other partners, Genome Canada invests and manages large-scale research projects in key selected areas such as agriculture, environment, fisheries, forestry, health and new technology development. Genome Canada also supports research projects aimed at studying and analyzing the ethical, environmental, economic, legal and social issues related to genomics research (GE3LS). To date, Genome Canada has invested more than $300 million across Canada. With funding from other partners, this amounts to an investment of $680 million in 57 innovative genomics and proteomics research projects and science and technology platforms.
About Genome Quebec
Genome Quebec is a not-for-profit investment organization formed to promote the development of genomic and proteomic research in Quebec. Its mission is to structure and mobilize these major areas of research. Genome Quebec's key financial partners are Genome Canada and the Quebec Ministry of Economic and Regional Development (MDER).
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For further information, contact:
Sophie Langlois, Université de Montréal, (514) 343-7704
Anie Perrault, Genome Canada (613) 751-4460 or (613) 296-7292 - cell.
Andrée Gravel, Genome Québec (514) 398-0668
Katherine Bonter, Caprion Pharmaceuticals (514) ) 228-3624