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European Biopharmaceutical Review

Immunotherapy - From Suppression to Tolerance

A wide spectrum of diseases can arise if the immune system reacts to antigens and tissues that are better left alone. Allergic reactions to environmental antigens, autoimmune reactions to self tissue antigens, and reactions to allo-antigens in transplants together make up this group of clinical conditions. Current therapies for these diseases either only relieve symptoms, or induce non-specific suppression of the immune system which can lead to severe infection, as well as drug-related toxicity. There is now a resurgence of interest in how the immune system prevents or down-regulates its responses to antigens, leading to the possibility of a new class of treatments for these diseases which addresses antigen-specific tolerance - the 'holy grail' of immunotherapy.

The Immune System - A Two-Sided Coin

The immune system is a powerful and essential defence mechanism which protects against a wide range of potentially damaging invaders - bacteria, viruses and parasites. It maintains constant surveillance over these infectious agents and without it we would not survive for very long. However, there is a price to be paid when it goes wrong and attacks where it should not, resulting in allergies, autoimmune disease and rejection of transplants.


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By Dr Mark Bodmer, Chief Executive of Lorantis Ltd

Following a PhD in Genetics from Cambridge University in 1982, Dr Mark Bodmer joined Celltech Group plc, where he held a number of research and development roles. From 1994 he served as Director of Biology at Celltech Therapeutics with responsibility for a team of over 100 scientists covering Celltech's biological research, including biology and medicinal chemistry functions.
In 1996 he became the founding CEO of Hexagen, a venture funded genomics start-up company in Cambridge, UK. In September 1998 Hexagen was acquired by Incyte Pharmaceuticals. Mark served as Senior Vice President of R&D for Incyte and President of its European subsidiary until November 1999 when he took up the position of CEO of Lorantis Ltd.

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Dr Mark Bodmer
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