Australian biotechnology company Aravax has commenced clinical trials of a potentially life-changing product developed to treat sufferers of peanut allergy.
The company's technology uses selected fragments of peanut proteins to switch off allergic reactions.
"The product is designed to be safer, more rapid, and more convenient than other approaches currently under development," said Aravax in a statement,
Pascal Hickey, CEO of Aravax, said, “We want to help people around the world who suffer from peanut allergy to live stress-free lives without constantly fearing a major health event from accidental consumption. Our technology aims to alleviate that stress by reprogramming the immune system to tolerate peanuts. By creating a safe, convenient and fast solution to a very serious problem we believe our product will have a global health impact by transforming the lives of patients and their carers."
Almost two in every hundred Australians suffer from peanut allergy, and currently there is no therapy to reduce the severity of allergic reactions that can occur following accidental consumption. Despite patients attempting to follow a peanut-free diet, every year around 40 per cent of peanut allergic individuals will suffer a serious adverse event from inadvertent exposure, including anaphylaxis which can lead to death.
Traditionally, allergy specialists have treated patients using repeated doses of the allergy-causing substance. Similar approaches are being developed to treat peanut allergy, but the use of preparations containing whole peanut protein carries a high risk of severe reactions and requires daily dosing for lengthy periods. The Aravax product does not contain the parts of peanut protein that cause severe allergic reactions, and its once-a-month dosing regimen is a far simpler solution than remembering to take medication every day.
In the first ever trial of its product known as PVX108, Aravax will evaluate the safety and tolerability of single and repeated administration across a wide range of doses to determine an appropriate dosing regimen. This double-blinded and placebo controlled trial commenced dosing on 10 May 2017 with the first group of subjects safely receiving the lowest dose of PVX108. The trial is being conducted at CMAX Clinical Research in Adelaide, and at Nucleus Network in Melbourne.
Aravax’s technology is underpinned by over a decade of research led by Professor Robyn O’Hehir and her team at Alfred Health and Monash University, which has been supported by the Australian Food Allergy Foundation, the Alfred Hospital Trust, and the National Health and Medical Research Council.
In 2015, Aravax secured over $4.85 million in investment from the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF) to develop the technology through to initial clinical trials, with Phase 1 clinical trials commencing last week.