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ImmusanT Raises $20 Million in Series A Financing to Advance Immunotherapeutic and Diagnostic for Celiac Disease

ImmusanT, Inc. announced today it has raised $20 million in Series A financing from Vatera Healthcare Partners LLC to advance development of the biotechnology company's immunotherapeutic vaccine Nexvax2®, companion diagnostic and monitoring tool for celiac disease. The proceeds will fund the Nexvax2 therapeutic and diagnostic development plan to the point of demonstrating proof-of-concept. ImmusanT expects to initiate the next clinical trial in early 2012.

"ImmusanT's Nexvax2 and companion diagnostic address the rapidly growing number of patients diagnosed with celiac disease whose only option is a strict diet that eliminates gluten. At Vatera we seek to invest in therapies that fulfill unmet medical needs and offer a significant clinical benefit to patients. We believe that ImmusanT's technology has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life for celiac disease patients," said Sundar Kodiyalam, Managing Director of Vatera Holdings LLC.

ImmusanT's product pipeline includes Nexvax2, which combines three proprietary peptides that elicit an immune response in patients with celiac disease who carry the immune recognition gene HLA-DQ2, which includes approximately 80% of patients. ImmusanT Scientific Founder and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Bob Anderson discovered the three peptides responsible for making gluten toxic to people with the disease. Nexvax2 is designed to tolerize celiac disease patients to the toxic effects of gluten, enabling them to return to a normal diet. Safety, tolerability and bioactivity of Nexvax2 have been established in a Phase 1 clinical study and presented at this year's Digestive Disease Week.

ImmusanT is also developing a proprietary whole-blood functional T-cell test for use both as a standalone diagnostic for celiac disease and as a monitoring tool for the therapeutic. In the company's dual-track product development strategy, clinical trial subjects will be screened using the diagnostic along with standard serology tests to identify patients most likely to respond to Nexvax2.

"There is tremendous enthusiasm for Nexvax2 from celiac patients and clinicians who want a therapy that allows patients to resume a normal diet and return to good health and improved quality of life. The financial backing and support of Vatera Healthcare Partners will allow us to round out our team and advance our research and development programs to bear out this hypothesis," said Leslie J. Williams, Founder, President and CEO of ImmusanT, Inc.

About Celiac Disease and Nexvax2
Celiac disease is an inherited
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return false">autoimmune disorder that is triggered by foods containing gluten, the main protein in wheat, rye and barley, affecting the digestive process of the small intestine.  Nexvax2 is delivered intradermally in small doses to reprogram and tolerize the disease-causing T-cells triggered by the patient's immune response to gluten. The approach is similar to treatments for allergies to cats, ragweed or dust mites, whereby repeated doses establish non-responsiveness to a specific antigen, and in the case of celiac disease, reduces or eliminates the body's rejection of dietary gluten. With no available drug therapy, the only option for the 1% of the global population that has celiac disease is a gluten-free diet, which is fraught with compliance issues and inadvertent exposure leaving patients at risk for long-term intestinal damage. By reprogramming the T-cell response, the Nexvax2 approach is designed to reduce inflammation in the villi that line the small intestine and are responsible for absorbing nutrients. This returns the intestine to a normal healthy state.

About Vatera Healthcare Partners LLC
Vatera Healthcare Partners LLC is a venture capital firm established by Michael Jaharis, Founder of Kos Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a specialty pharmaceutical company sold to Abbott Laboratories in 2006, and of Key Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a specialty pharmaceutical company that merged with Schering-Plough in 1986. Vatera focuses on investing in biopharmaceutical firms and products with the goal of building and growing companies by leveraging the team's collective experience and expertise in the pharmaceutical industry and strong network of relationships within industry and academia.

About ImmusanT, Inc.
ImmusanT is a privately-held biotechnology company focused on restoring tolerance to gluten in celiac disease by harnessing new discoveries in immunology that improve diagnosis and treatment and return patients to a normal diet, good health and improved quality of life. The company is developing Nexvax2®, a therapeutic vaccine for celiac disease, and a companion diagnostic and monitoring tool to improve celiac disease management. ImmusanT's targeted immunotherapy discovery platform can be applied to a variety of epitope-specific autoimmune diseases. More information can be found at www.ImmusanT.com.

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REALLY odd call out here, I am attending a anime convention called A-Fest in Dallas come August, I need someone to split the room with it who is gluten-free. I take extra precautions, I COOK all the food, bring only CERTIFIED foods into the room, The room will be Gluten Free, Corn Free, Dairy Free, Peanut Free. I am trying to find someone to split the room cost with, that would be safe to be around I CAN NOT AFFORD to get sick at one of these things, it is one of my few joys left in life and get very paranoid around them. So I need someone who is also gluten-free to make sure the room stays safe (YES I have done with with a non celiac with the rules down and well stuff happens so not chancing it). Room split is food coverage comes to $400 if it is just two people. 4 day convention, I will arrange a meal plan around your diet as long as it is free of my allergens. I will also provide various snacks, baked goods, and even stuff to take home with you. https://animefest.org/ ^Convention info.

Hi Jennifer, This thread might have some information that would help you. Your doctors are pretty lame IMHO. Perhaps you can find a celiac group in your area that has local meetings for support. They might also suggest a different doctor who knows how to treat celiac patients.

All the above posts are full of good advice. What I'd like to add is, if you have coeliac disease and continue to eat gluten, you run the risk of other autoimmune diseases in the future as well as osteoporosis, malnutrition and even cancer, so even if you had no symptoms at the beginning, and may also not have any symptoms if you eat gluten (not all coeliacs do), the damage is still being done to your gut and the rest of your body, so please be aware of this.

You could possibly try calling the places in Texas and Chicago to see if they can refer you somewhere that does accept your insurance. Oh good luck to you!

Hi Jennifer and welcome CyclingLady has given you some good advice above. You want certainty and that's entirely understandable. Go back to your doctors and explain that you need to know a little more and hopefully they will engage positively with you. If they don't, then do pursue a second opinion. I just wanted to address your last paragraph quoted above. The problem with celiac, or in my case non celiac gluten sensitivity, is that it presents or doesn't present in so many different ways. It can do hidden damage which may take many years to become apparent. It can impact in ways which are incredibly difficult to recognise or isolate. I am 'lucky' in that the way that gluten impacts on me is far worse than any mental or social isolation brought upon by the diet, so motivation is easy for me, even without the certainty of a celiac diagnosis, there really is no alternative, I don't think I'd last long on a gluten diet now. But I can well understand how difficult it may be to stay honest on the diet if you don't have any symptoms to deal with. The diet can be isolating, there does become a distance between you and 'normal' people. Who would want to deal with all that if they didn't have to? If you aren't satisfied with your doctors responses and choose to go back onto gluten I suggest you find another doctor and go back into the diagnostic process and properly exclude celiac, including a scope. Otherwise you could be taking a big risk with yr long term health. You may find that this process supplies you with an answer as if your diagnosis was correct your response to the reintroduction of gluten may surprise you, or not of course! best of luck!