COMPANY

Desentum is a research-oriented biopharmaceutical company specialized in developing novel types of allergen immunotherapy products that are based on switching the immune system's response to allergens from hypersensitivity to tolerance. We have a unique approach for designing the hypoallergens used in immunotherapy. By studying the molecular mechanism of the hypersensitivity reaction, we have made discoveries that allow for improved design of immunotherapeutic products against common types of allergies. Our goal is to provide long-term relief for patients suffering from allergic symptoms, as well as reduce the social and economic burden allergies cause to both individuals and society.

Our near-term target is to start clinical trials for the first vaccines in 2017.

The story behind Desentum started in Finland, where scientists at the University of Eastern Finland and the VTT Technical Research Center studied the interaction between allergens and IgE proteins. They made exciting new findings about the mechanism triggering the mast cells to release histamines and other chemicals, thus causing the allergic symptoms. The findings were added into their growing intellectual property portfolio. Once the team realized that these discoveries could lead to major improvements on the future treatment of allergies, they filed patent applications and founded Desentum in 2011.

Our main collaborators are VTT Technical Research Center of Finland Ltd and the University of Eastern Finland. Other collaborators are the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands and Reflab ApS in Denmark. The research groups have already found several promising candidates for immunotherapeutic products against some of the major allergens. We are also looking into the delivery mechanism of the products in order to make the treatment process patient-friendly and cost-efficient.

Background

Allergy is an enormous problem that is increasing dramatically. A hundred years ago it was rare, but since then it has become an epidemic. Asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis and eczema are the most common diseases caused by allergy. The number of allergic people has increased 7-fold in the last 30 years. Worldwide, more than one billion people are affected by allergies, and the number is expected to rise up to four billion within the next 50 years.

Traditionally, allergy medication such as antihistamines and corticosteroids has been used for alleviating the allergic symptoms. This approach is often insufficient and does not affect the underlying condition, but even so, the anti-allergy drug market is anticipated to exceed $14.7 billion in 2015 in the US alone.

Allergen immunotherapy is a method where increasing doses of allergen are administrated to promote the immune system to develop tolerance to the allergen. Immunotherapy affects the mechanism causing the allergic symptoms instead of merely controlling the symptoms. It often provides long-term relief for the patient, even after the therapy period is over. The worldwide allergy vaccine sales were $642 million in 2010, and about $1.1 billion in 2014.