From conducting initial research experiments to publishing their findings in scientific journals, there is a long journey to translate these discoveries into patient therapies. An essential step in this process is the commercialization through the establishment of biopharmaceutical companies. Often, such companies are founded by the researchers themselves, as they possess the best understanding of the direction in which further research should progress to transform academic findings into therapies. A great example of such a company is PolTREG
What is PolTREG? What does therapy involving Treg cells entail?
PolTREG is a biopharmaceutical company that focuses on utilizing advanced technologies and scientific research to develop therapies based on T regulatory lymphocytes (Treg) for patients suffering from autoimmune diseases, primarily Type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
Therapy using Treg cells is a form of cell-based therapy. The best way to illustrate the mechanism of this therapy is to compare the immune system to the army, the analogy made by Professor Trzonkowski, the founder and CEO of PolTREG. In this army, immune cells act as soldiers fighting against infections, and the Treg cells serve as military police, ensuring the proper functioning of the immune system. In immune-related diseases, these Treg “military police” are either absent or malfunctioning, causing the immune system to fail to distinguish between its own cells and foreign cells, leading to attacks on the body’s own cells. To prevent the immune system from attacking its own cells, it is necessary to increase the number of Treg cells. Scientists at PolTREG are pioneers in a method that helps address this problem.
The first step in the therapy developed by PolTREG involves collecting blood from patients and isolating Treg cells. These cells are extremely scarce, but thanks to the innovative technology employed by PolTREG, scientists can expand the Treg cells to the required quantity for therapy. These cells are then administered back to the same patient from whom they were obtained but in a larger number.
Currently, PolTREG utilizes this method in the therapy of Type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis. However, there are approximately 80 autoimmune diseases that share a similar pathological mechanism, making the method developed by PolTREG applicable to a broader range of conditions.
PolTREG: From a university laboratory to a joint-stock company
The history of PolTREG dates back to 2006 when the company’s founders and shareholders, Piotr Trzonkowski MD-PhD, DSc, ProfTit, Małgorzata Myśliwiec MD-PhD, DSc, ProfTit, and Natalia Marek-Trzonkowska MD-PhD, DSc, ProfTit, conducted research at the Medical University of Gdańsk, taking the first steps towards utilizing Treg cells in the treatment of Type 1 diabetes. The next step was the establishment of PolTREG as a spin-off company from the Medical University of Gdańsk in 2015. According to the company’s website, its goal is to “conduct clinical research, develop new therapies, and commercialize solutions.”
The most advanced clinical research conducted by PolTREG includes Phase II/III clinical trials for newly diagnosed patients with Type 1 diabetes, as well as Phase I trials for asymptomatic patients. The company continues to develop its technology and seeks new innovative solutions.
One of the projects carried out in collaboration with AZTherapies involves the use of CAR-TREG cells. These are Treg cells that are genetically engineered to express an additional receptor. Their role is to seal blood vessels in the brain. In individuals with certain conditions, immune cells can cross the blood-brain barrier and trigger disease symptoms. The presence of CAR-TREG cells helps seal the blood-brain barrier. The company aims to utilize these cells for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, although CAR-TREG cells can also be used to treat other diseases.
PolTREG continues to grow as a company. It collaborates with high-quality research institutions, secures grants, and receives support from investors. This enables the company to allocate funds not only for research but also for the construction of a center dedicated to the preparation of Treg cells for clinical trials and the production of cellular drugs for future therapies.
- PolTREG’s website; URL: https://poltreg.com/
- Webinar with the board – Company’s development plans; URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtesDdp7zZU&t=3638s&ab_channel=StrefaInwestor%C3%B3w