‘Disease-cancelling technology’: New drugs may act more like noise-control headphones

gene therapyx
Credit: MIT

Rather than focusing on the DNA and proteins involved in a disease, Immuneering focuses on disease-associated gene signaling and expression data. The company is trying to cancel out those signals like a pair of headphones blocks out unwanted background noise.

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“We started noticing some common patterns in terms of how these very successful drugs were working, and eventually we realized we could use these insights to create a platform that would let us identify new medicine,” [CEO Ben] Zeskind says. “[The idea is] to not just make existing medicines work better but also to create entirely new medicines that work better than anything that has come before.”

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In keeping with that idea, Immuneering is currently developing a bold pipeline of drugs aimed at some of the most deadly forms of cancer, in addition to other complex diseases that have proven difficult to treat, like Alzheimer’s. The company’s lead drug candidate, which targets a protein signaling pathway associated with many human cancers, will begin clinical trials within the year.

It’s the first of what Immuneering hopes will be a number of clinical trials enabled by what the company calls its “disease-canceling technology,” which analyzes the gene expression data of diseases and uses computational models to identify small-molecule compounds likely to bind to disease pathways and silence them.

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