Development of therapies for autoimmune disease at Stanford: a tale of multiple shots and one goal
The title of this contribution on Immunology at Stanford is purposely ambiguous. One goal is the development of safe and effective therapy for autoimmune diseases. Another definition of goal is to score, and this would ultimately mean the development of an approved drug. Indeed, the efforts in my four decades at Stanford, have included the discovery and subsequent development of a monoclonal antibody to block homing to the inflamed brain, leading to natalizumab, an approved therapeutic for two autoimmune diseases: relapsing–remitting MS and for inflammatory bowel disease. Multiple attempts to develop new therapies for autoimmune disease are described here: The trimolecular complex and the immune synapse serve as one major set of targets, with attempts to inhibit particular major histocompatibility molecules, the variable regions of the T cell receptor, and CD4. Other approaches focusing on antigen-specific tolerance include ongoing attempts with tolerizing DNA vaccines in type 1 diabetes. Finally, the repurposing of popular drugs approved for other indications, including statins and inhibitors of angiotensin converting enzyme is under development and showing promise in the clinic, particularly for secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. The milieu within Stanford Immunology has helped to nurture these efforts to translate discoveries in immunology and to take them from bench to bedside.