Autoimmune diseases and the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) system have a close relationship. HLA antigens are coded for within a region of genes known as the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC). The primary role of the HLA molecules is to present pathogen derived peptides to T cells thereby eliciting a T cell mediated adaptive immune response. The T cell recognizes both the HLA molecule and the peptide it presents. However, in autoimmunity, autoreactive T cells become activated by the errant presentation of a native peptide by an HLA protein as an antigen. Major diseases associated with HLAs include multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, celiac disease and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
IMT is developing a proprietary library of drug molecules targeted against diseases associated with HLA DR3 and DR4. Other HLA models, both Class I and Class II, have also been developed and adapted for further design of chemical docking and impact on drug development.