As the third most common cause of chronic illness in the U.S., autoimmune diseases affect as many as 23.5 million people1. More than 80 known autoimmune diseases exist with suboptimal treatment and no cures, representing a leading cause of death and disability.
Current therapeutic modalities include injectable monoclonal antibodies and small molecule oral medicines that do not always achieve optimal and long-lasting disease control. Autoimmune diseases may also require extreme, broadly immunosuppressive approaches (for example, corticosteroids or calcineurin inhibitors) which can leave patients with dampened immune responses, rendering them susceptible to infections and malignancies.
Kyverna aims to successfully apply cell therapy to autoimmunity. We believe that Kyverna’s engineered cells have the potential to address the underlying mechanisms of autoimmune disease with the additional benefits of improving safety and tolerability by minimizing toxicity associated with current treatments.
Potential Disease Targets
In its simplest form, autoimmune disease emerges when the complex network of the normally protective human immune system is unable to discern between self and non-self. Abnormal immunity against self-antigens may be evidenced by a rise in antibodies (called “autoantibodies”) against a variety of molecules. A cell population responsible for the production of antibodies, the B cells, has been identified as playing a key role in so-called humoral auto-immunity.
Our goal is to demonstrate the clinical potential of Kyverna’s engineered T cell therapies as safe, effective, and potentially curative treatments for autoimmune diseases. Our initial disease targets are diseases for which there are no approved treatments, or for which the results of existing treatments could be significantly improved.
What it is
An autoimmune disease in which chronic kidney inflammation can ultimately lead to complete kidney failure and the need for renal replacement.
Where it strikes
Systemic lupus erythematosus is among the top 15 most prevalent autoimmune diseases in the U.S.1, affecting approximately 330,000 patients.3 Lupus nephritis (LN) affects up to 60% of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Up to 10% of patients with LN and 40% with diffuse LN (class IV) will ultimately develop kidney failure, requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant to stay alive.4
Two conventional approaches; one small molecule, and one biologic agent were recently approved by the FDA for the treatment of patients with active lupus nephritis in combination with a background immunosuppressive regimen. Despite these approvals there is still an unmet medical need for truly transformative approaches that will eliminate the use or need for potent immunosuppressants, dialysis, or kidney transplantation.
What it is
A multisystem autoimmune disease that is characterized by widespread vascular dysfunction and progressive fibrosis (scarring) of the skin and internal organs.
Where it strikes
The prevalence of systemic sclerosis is estimated to span from 50 to 300 cases per 1 million people.5
While some treatments may alleviate symptoms, there are currently no effective or approved therapies for the underlying disease process.
- Hayter et al., Autoimmune Rev., 2012 Aug;11(10):754-65.
- E. Carter et al., Nature Reviews Rheumatology, 12, Oct. 2016, 605-620.
- Adv Chronic Kidney Dis. 2019;26(5):313.