Autoimmune mRNA therapeutics research collaboration 

etherna has entered a research collaboration with Hasselt University (UHasselt) to develop an mRNA based treatment for autoimmune disorders.  

Funded by Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO), the project aims to combine etherna’s vast expertise in developing customised mRNA and lipid-based nanoparticle technologies for immuno-modulation with UHasselt’s research into autoimmune diseases with a particular focus on multiple sclerosis. 

Dr Paulien Baeten, postdoctoral researcher, commented: “The collaboration with etherna in this VLAIO-funded project is a great opportunity to contribute to the application of mRNA technologies in the fight against autoimmune disorders. This gives us as academic researchers the opportunity to convert our acquired knowledge into a solution for patients.” 

Dr Stefaan De Koker, VP Technology & Innovation at 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 auto-reactive effector T cells (Teffs) whilst avoiding generalied immune activation. etherna’s ability to provide ultrapure, non-inflammatory mRNA, and immune-silent LNPs targeting antigen presenting cells alongside UHasselt’s immunological expertise will be key to success.” 

Since etherna was founded in 2013, the company has established an integrated set of proprietary capabilities for end-to-end design, development, and manufacture of next-generation mRNA products. These include molecular designs, lipid chemistry expertise, customised lipid nanoparticle formulations (cLNPs), mRNA-based T cell adjuvants, and advanced manufacturing processes.  

etherna’s business model is to partner with both emerging and established biopharma companies, allowing them to resolve the current challenges mRNA therapeutics face.

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