A Singular Focus on Innate Immunity

The immune system is made up of two major parts that must work together to protect us—the innate and adaptive immune systems. Recent advances in immunotherapy have focused largely on drugs targeting the adaptive immune system. While many of these immunotherapies work well, they are effective at treating only a small number of diseases and patients since they activate only one part of the body’s immune system.

In contrast, IFM Therapeutics is looking upstream of the adaptive immune system to focus on developing drugs that target the innate immune system, the body’s first line of immunological response and the master regulator of subsequent immune activity. Innate immune biology offers a multitude of potential drug targets and pathways across several therapeutic areas.

Take a deep dive into innate immunity

Targeting Innate Immune System Activity

Innate immune
responses are reduced

Immune system is


Innate immune
responses are enhanced

Immune system is

Diseased State
Therapeutic Potential

Modulating With Precision

Effectively targeting the innate immune system requires modulating the right response at the right time. In many ways, these activities parallel what a cyber security expert must do to respond to potential threats. The expert must strike the right balance—dialing down the response when necessary, without leaving networks vulnerable to attack, and enhancing the response at other times, without blocking any critical information.

In inflammation, where the immune system is overactive, our small-molecule inhibitors selectively reduce the immune responses that stop the body from attacking itself. Unlike current therapies that begin working after inflammation starts, our drug candidates prevent overactive inflammation from occurring. Because many serious autoimmune and inflammatory diseases have genetic links to proteins within the innate immune system, ours is an approach that offers the promise of safer and more effective medicines.

In cancer, where the immune system is not active enough, our innate activators launch the immune response to target and destroy tumors. Current immunotherapies for cancer, such as checkpoint inhibitors, work only in tumors where there is preexisting inflammation (so called “hot” tumors). Even when these therapies work, immunological memory is weak and the cancers often return. Our drug candidates, on the other hand, can turn cold tumors hot and therefore make checkpoint inhibitors more effective. Our assets also lead to strong immunological memory, helping to prevent the cancer from returning.

Research Publications

NLRP3 Inflammasome Signal Transduction

Charcot-Leyden Crystals activate the NLRP3 inflammasome and cause IL-1β inflammation in human macrophages

Bernardo S. Franklin, Eicke Latz, et al.

Journal of Immunology 

December 2018 

Review of Inflammasomes

Inflammasome signaling in brain function and neurodegenerative disease

Michael T. Heneka, Roisin M. McManus, Eicke Latz 

Nature Reviews Neuroscience

September 2018

Review of Inflammasomes

Targeting the NLRP3 inflammasome in inflammatory diseases

Matthew S. J. Mangan, Edward J. Olhava, William R. Roush, H. Martin Seidel, Gary D. Glick, Eicke Latz 

Nature Reviews Drug Discovery

July 2018

Review of Inflammasomes

Activation and regulation of the inflammasomes

Eicke Latz, et al. 

Nature Reviews Immunology

June 2013

Review of Inflammasomes

Sensing and reacting to microbes through the inflammasomes

Luigi Franchi, et al.

Nature Immunology

March 2012

NLRP3 Inflammasome Signal Transduction

NLRP3 inflammasome assembly is regulated by phosphorylation of the pyrin domain

Andrea Stutz, Eicke Latz, et al.

Journal of Experimental Medicine

June 2017

Our Pipeline

IFM Therapeutics is developing drug candidates that have the potential to overcome current clinical challenges in inflammation and immuno-oncology.

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