From left: Professor Ian Hermans, Dr. Bob Anderson, Professor Graham Le Gros

Immunotherapeutic treatments for celiac disease focus of visiting speaker

17 May 2019, Gut Health, Immune system, Visiting speaker

Dr Bob Anderson, Chief Scientific Officer at immunotherapeutic company ImmusanT, recently visited the Malaghan Institute to present his work on developing immunotherapeutic treatments for celiac disease. 

A graduate of medicine from the University of Otago, Dr Anderson completed his postgraduate studies at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, later becoming a postdoctoral fellow in the Nuffield Department of Medicine at Oxford University.

Today, Dr Anderson is the chief scientist behind a promising new range of immunotherapeutic drugs targeted at inducing gluten tolerance in the gut. Still in the clinical trial phase, this new class of drugs may one day offer a way for celiac patients to effectively manage their symptoms, to the point where they no longer experience the negative effects associated with the disease.

Presenting clinical data ImmunsanT has collected over the past decade in developing this technology, Dr Anderson’s seminar explored how the drug interacts with the immune system to induce tolerance to gluten protein, as well as broader implications for diagnosis and treatment of immune-mediated diseases.

Director of the Malaghan Institute Professor Graham Le Gros said Dr Anderson’s studies aligned with research currently underway at the Malaghan Institute, which seeks to find ways to shut down the immune response that causes allergic disease.

It is estimated that as many as 1 in 80 New Zealanders suffer from celiac disease. With many patients improperly diagnosed and experiencing the full brunt of this auto-immune disease, a huge opportunity exists to improve the quality of their lives.