Integral Molecular is announcing a new collaboration with the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn). Integral Molecular and Penn will work together toward discovering new targets that may cause, diagnose, and treat autoimmune encephalitis—a group of conditions that occur when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy brain cells, causing brain inflammation. Those who suffer from autoimmune encephalitis have symptoms such as short-term memory loss, unexplained seizures, and other psychiatric and neurological symptoms. Integral Molecular will use its Membrane Proteome Array (MPA) platform to identify the targets of autoantibodies derived from patients afflicted with this autoimmune disorder.
“Diagnosing autoimmune disorders is very difficult if we don’t know the targets,” added Benjamin Doranz, President and CEO of Integral Molecular. “Using our breakthrough MPA platform, we have already identified new targets in the immuno-oncology, infectious, and neurodegenerative disease fields, so we expect that this collaboration can have a significant impact in the autoimmunity field for patients.”
The MPA platform contains 5,300 different human membrane proteins, nearly the entire human membrane proteome, each individually expressed in live human cells. In this project, each protein will be screened for antibody binding using unfixed cells and flow cytometry, enabling high-sensitivity detection for discovering new targets that cause autoimmune encephalitis.
“These rare autoimmune disorders are extremely complicated and hard to understand, which makes it a challenge to treat patients with these disorders,” said Eric Lancaster, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of Neurology and director of the Center for Autoimmune Neurology at Penn. “Having a comprehensive understanding of what protein targets underly these devastating disorders, would be valuable and could help clinicians to find more effective diagnostics and therapies.”