BioMmune’s Calcium Channel Program was initiated with the acquisition of intellectual property (IP) from The University of British Columbia and the Jefferies Group. The IP relates to methods and compounds (agents) that modulate voltage-gated calcium channels. The program’s objective is to identify new calcium channel regulators (blockers) that activate the immune system’s T Cells to combat cancers, infections and autoimmune diseases.
The Calcium Channels are a multi-member family of over 10 different proteins. The activities of the calcium channels are regulated and the channels, in turn, regulate the concentration of calcium ions (Ca++) that act as universal second messengers in virtually all cell types.
Calcium signalling is known to play an important role in adaptive immunity. Two splice variants of the CaV1.4 calcium channel that regulates Ca++ entry into T cells of the immune system have been identified in humans. In a study related to the BioMmune IP acquisition, it was demonstrated that CaV1.4 plays an important role in the function, development, and survival of naive T cells, T cells that have not been activated by encountering specific antigens. The immune system requires adequate numbers of naive T cells for continuous response to unfamiliar pathogens.
Other studies have indicated that the Ca++ signal plays a role in proliferation and migration processes in cancer. The studies identified alterations in the expression of proteins involved in the movement of Ca++ across the cell plasma membrane.
BioMmune is developing new monoclonal antibodies that specifically bind to an ectodomain (protruding section) of a CaV1 protein on the cell’s surface. The binding of the antibodies to an ectodomain of the target CaV1 molecule can modulate the function of the CaV1 calcium channel, thus providing control of T cell function in ways not possible with current technology.
The antibodies will be tested for their ability to inhibit or activate the Calcium Channels, ultimately leading to a regulation of T cell activity with the objective of enhancing this activity for the treatment of cancers, infections and autoimmune diseases.