Coya extends research collaboration into exosomes from T-cells

Work with Houston Methodist adds to Coya portfolio targeting inflammation

Margarida Maia, PhD avatar

by Margarida Maia, PhD |

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Coya Therapeutics is building upon its collaboration with the Houston Methodist Research Institute, in Texas, to advance research into exosomes, or tiny packets released from regulatory T-cells (Tregs), a type of immune cells that keep inflammation in check.

These exosomes contain molecules that, similar to Tregs, can cross the protective blood-brain barrier and help attenuate excessive inflammation within the brain. Although the company has not yet disclosed the specific disease targets for this work, it is well-established that uncontrolled inflammation plays a critical role in the progression of Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.

This adds to Coya’s portfolio of candidate therapies targeting inflammation in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s.

Funding to develop and scale up the production of exosomes will come from Houston Methodist’s Ann Kimball & John W. Johnson Center for Cellular Therapeutics and a sponsored research agreement with Stanley Appel, MD, who directs the Johnson Center and chairs Coya’s scientific advisory board, according to a press release.

Coya and Houston Methodist also will work together to produce candidate products that meet Good Manufacturing Practices standards for use in first-in-human clinical testing.

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In Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, excessive inflammation in the brain can set off or maintain a chain of events leading to nerve cell damage. It is thought that few or faulty Tregs may explain why the body fails to keep inflammation under control.

In addition to Treg-derived exosomes, Coya is developing other candidate products aimed at restoring the function of Tregs in Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and frontotemporal dementia, a form of dementia that overlaps with ALS.

As part of their research collaboration agreement, Coya and Houston Methodist will continue to explore the benefits of COYA 301 and COYA 302 — two candidate therapies in the company’s pipeline — as subcutaneous (under-the-skin) treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.

COYA 301 uses a low dose of IL-2, a protein that increases the number and activity of Tregs, to ease inflammation. COYA 302, meanwhile, combines IL-2 with another protein, called CTLA4-Ig or abatacept, which decreases the activity of inflammatory cells.

Coya recently expanded the pipeline for COYA 302 into Parkinson’s, and plans to file an application in 2025 seeking approval to start testing the therapy candidate in a Phase 1/2 clinical study for Parkinson’s, according to the company’s website.

In a small proof-of-concept study in people with ALS, treatment with COYA 302 was well tolerated and slowed disease progression for 48 weeks, or nearly one year. Its use also resulted in an increase in Treg activity, along with a reduction of the levels of biomarkers of disease.

The company will continue to study how well clinical biomarkers can help track how ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases progress, which could help improve the selection of patients for clinical studies and measure how well the treatment is working.