Pfizer has licensed an immunotherapy treatment intended to combat Type 1 diabetes from US-based biotechnology firm AnToIRx.

To acquire the rights, Pfizer exercised an option under an existing agreement reached between the companies in June 2016.

The licensing agreement covers exclusive development rights. Pfizer will carry out further optimisation, development and potential commercialisation of the immunotherapeutic.

As per the agreement, AnTolRx will receive an upfront payment along with potential milestone and royalty payments.

Pfizer Inflammation & Immunology senior vice-president and chief scientific officer Michael Vincent said: “At Pfizer’s Immunology and Inflammation Research Unit, our ultimate goal is to advance potential cures for autoimmune disease, and we see AnTolRx’s approach to re-educate the immune response as one potentially promising strategy to achieve that goal for patients.”

AnTolRx is engaged in the development of targeted antigen-specific treatments by leveraging immune tolerance induction instead of broader immune suppression. The company aims to address a variety of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

AnTolRx scientific founder and chief scientific adviser Francisco Quintana said: “This agreement with Pfizer supports the industry’s mounting interest in developing therapeutics based upon antigen-specific tolerance and underscores its potential to deliver innovative new medicines for patients with immunological diseases.”

“There is an urgent need for disease-modifying Type 1 diabetes immunotherapies.”

In September 2016, Pfizer led the series A funding round in AnTolRx raised $4m for research and development of antigen-specific targeted nanoparticle tolerance therapeutics (TNTT) for immune disorders, including Type 1 diabetes.

The financing round was also joined by Orion Equity Partners and JDRF, an organisation that funds research on Type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is chronic, autoimmune condition that can affect at any age and lead to serious complications such as kidney, eye and nerve diseases.

The disease, which requires continuous monitoring of blood glucose levels, lacks cure.

JDRF President and CEO Derek Rapp said: “There is an urgent need for disease-modifying Type 1 diabetes immunotherapies to slow down the autoimmune process and delay or block progression to symptomatic insulin-dependent diabetes.

“The AnTolRx story is an excellent example of a research foundation, an academic institution, a biotech company and a major pharmaceutical company working together to advance promising translational research with the hope that it can potentially deliver key breakthroughs for the Type 1 diabetes community.”