A HIV protein to alleviate transplant rejection

GO-Bio  7 – Dr. Andrea Tüttenberg – Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Clinic and Polyclinic for Dermatology and Allergology

HIV-Virus mit T-Zellen

psdesign1 – Fotolia

Recipient: University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
Funding: GO-Bio Phase I (01.08.2016 - 31.01.2019, 3.328.845 Euro)


A feared complication following a stem cell or organ transplant is an immunological rejection reaction against the donor tissue. Doctors use immunosuppressive drugs to prevent or at least reduce this dangerous overreaction by the body's immune system. However, this increases the risk of patients falling victim to serious infectious diseases.

The Mainz-based GO-Bio team headed by dermatologist Andrea Tüttenberg is hoping to specifically influence a natural immune regulation mechanism that will help avoid these excessive immune reactions. Thereby, the biomedical scientists in Mainz are focusing on the key players within the immune system – the T cells. As ‘guardians of immunotolerance’, these ensure that the body’s defences do not get out of control. The non-infectious glycoprotein GP120, which derives from the envelope of the HI virus, is capable of activating the regulatory T cells. In turn, this stimulus will calm an overheated immune system. Consequently, GP120 represents a potential active ingredient for the prevention of transplant rejection or alleviation of an autoimmune disorder.

Within the scope of GO-Bio, the team in Mainz will develop GP120 as an activating additive within a broader cell therapy. On the path towards this ‘advanced therapy medicinal product’ (ATMP), the researchers will also have the use of GP120-related resources from the area of vaccine development. Alongside the preclinical development of the cell therapy, the aims of the first phase of GO-Bio also include a biomarker analysis that is intended to help identify patient groups that will benefit most from the cellular GP120 immunotherapy. The founding of a biotech company will provide a basis for the efficient development and commercial application of GP120 as a drug for transplant rejection and autoimmune disorders.