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Abata Therapeutics Picks Second Autologous Tregs Clinical Candidate for Type 1 Diabetes

NEW YORK – Abata Therapeutics on Thursday said it will develop ABA-201, an autologous regulatory T-cell therapy (Tregs), as a disease-modifying treatment for patients with type 1 diabetes who have some beta-cell function.

The Watertown, Massachusetts-based firm, focused on translating Tregs biology into treatments for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, in December chose ABA-101 as its lead autologous cell therapy to advance as a treatment for patients with progressive multiple sclerosis who have the DRB1*15:01 genetic haplotype and evidence of inflammatory tissue injury in imaging tests. The company aims to move ABA-101 into clinical trials next year.

ABA-201 is Abata's second Tregs development candidate. Based on preclinical data in mice and clinical data on immunomodulators and polyclonal Tregs in individuals with a predisposition for type 1 diabetes or newly diagnosed disease, Abata believes it may be possible to treat type 1 diabetes with autoantigen-specific Tregs. Data from nonclinical studies have also reinforced the role Tregs play in suppressing beta-cell injury, the company noted.

Each year in the US, around 64,000 patients are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, but there aren't any disease-modifying treatments that address immune tolerance and preserve beta-cell function. ABA-201 uses a T-cell receptor to target the pancreas and drain lymph nodes in type 1 diabetes patients and is designed to hinder the destruction and maintain the mass of beta-cells, as well as facilitate repair of damaged tissues.

"Suppressing T-cell function has been shown to delay type 1 diabetes onset," Abata Chief Medical Officer Leonard Dragone said in a statement. "However, no therapeutic exists to truly halt the autoimmunity that drives T1D and durably recalibrate the immune response. We believe our targeted approach to suppressing pancreatic islet-associated inflammation could offer significant and long-lasting clinical benefit to patients."

Steven St. Peter, managing director of JDRF T1D Fund, an investor in Abata, in a statement said the fund will also support the development of ABA-201.