etherna and Hasselt University collaborate to develop mRNA-based therapies for autoimmune disease

Published: 23-May-2024

The collaboration will aim to develop treatments for multiple sclerosis, and is backed by Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO)

etherna, a company specialising in the development of RNA technology and Hasselt University have entered into a novel research collaboration to develop an mRNA-based treatment for autoimmune disorders.

Funded by Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO), the project aims to combine etherna's mRNA and lipid-based nanoparticle technology expertise with the University's research knowledge; the primary focus will be on multiple sclerosis, 

Dr Bieke Broux, Faculty of Medicine and Life Sciences, UHasselt said: “This innovative project was created by bringing together the expertise of etherna in mRNA and LNP technologies and the immunological knowledge available in the Biomedical Research Institute (BIOMED) of UHasselt. My team focuses specifically on finding solutions for the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis. To this end, we use human in vitro models as well as laboratory animal models to translationally test our findings.”

Dr Stefaan De Koker, VP Technology and Innovation, etherna added: “We see autoimmune diseases as one of the key opportunities for mRNA therapeutics alongside oncology and infectious diseases. The aim is to develop tolerising mRNA therapeutics that selectively amplify immune-suppressive regulatory T-cells (Tregs) and deplete disease-causing autoreactive effector T-cells (Teffs) whilst avoiding generalised immune activation. etherna’s ability to provide ultrapure, non-inflammatory mRNA and immune-silent LNPs alongside UHasselt’s immunological expertise will be key to success.”

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