A new UAB start-up company is working to treat Crohn’s disease earlier than ever.

ImmPrev Bio, Inc. is developing a new diagnostic tool and early-stage treatment for the condition, which is a type of inflammatory bowel disease. The new therapies are based on research conducted in the lab of Charles Elson, M.D., Professor of Medicine in UAB’s Immunology program in the Heersink School of Medicine. RS42646 Charles Elson 1 1 mug for storyCharles Elson, M.D.

The therapies focus on the discovery that more than half of Crohn’s disease sufferers have immune responses to a particular subset of gut bacteria. Patients with a high immune response to this subset of bacterial flagellin antigens, which help with bacterial motility, are likely to experience more Crohn’s complications.

Based on this discovery, ImmPrev is developing a concomitant metabolic checkpoint inhibition therapy for Crohn’s disease. ImmPrev will first target patients in surgically or medically induced remission from Crohn’s disease as well as patients with new-onset Crohn’s who demonstrate a high anti-flagellin response.

Elson hopes that this approach will lead to a platform for treating other immune-mediated diseases, in addition to Crohn’s.

“We believe that our novel early-stage treatment model has the potential to enable better outcomes for Crohn’s patients, who can now be identified earlier and tracked and treated more effectively,” Elson said. “We look forward to advancing this promising therapy for the patients who need it.”

First Avenue Ventures Life Science Fund I, a fund with a strategic focus on Birmingham-based early-stage investment opportunities in the life sciences, recently led an investment round into ImmPrev. The fund also plans to support business development and commercialization efforts. 

“We are thrilled to be working with Dr. Elson on this innovative diagnostic and therapy for Crohn’s disease,” said Mike Goodrich, Principal of the First Avenue Ventures fund.  “We are also proud to have invested in ImmPrev Bio, a company building on Elson’s outstanding research to develop a treatment with the potential to offer new hope for Crohn’s disease patients.”