SEATTLE, WA and CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND -- September 29, 1998 -- Chiroscience
Group plc (London Stock Exchange: CRO) announced today the discovery of a
gene that is responsible for the control of an immune response.
The gene has been discovered in both mice and humans, and the gene product
regulates the activity of CD4 T-cells, a cell-type central to many immune
The company has filed patents for the gene, which provides a novel,
proprietary target for drug discovery for a number of autoimmune and
inflammatory diseases, as well as cancer. The
announcement was made today in London during the company's Research and
"We have validated that this gene is a virtual 'off/on switch' for the
immune system," said Robert
Jackson, PhD, Chiroscience Director of Research, "and, depending on the
disease, there are times when we need to turn the system off, and times
when we need to turn it on.
We now have a new pathway to use in the discovery and development of drugs
for unmet medical need."
Diseases in which the immune system must be turned down include rheumatoid
arthritis, diabetes, psoriasis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and
allergy. Diseases in which the immune system should be increased include
cancer and AIDS.
Chiroscience researchers studied a unique strain of mice to isolate the
gene that causes a lethal, progressive autoimmune disease in that
population. A defect in this gene results in such a severe
effect that it would be difficult to identify in man without the prior
identification in mice. Company researchers cloned the gene this year and
went on to identify the corresponding human gene. Chiroscience researchers
are now studying the human gene's mechanism of action to determine methods
to activate or inhibit immune responses.