Apoptotic DNA Immunotherapy™

The discovery of immunosuppressive (anti-rejection and monoclonal) drugs over 40 years ago has made possible life-saving organ transplantation procedures and blocking of unwanted immune responses in autoimmune diseases. However, immune suppression leads to significant undesirable side effects, such as increased susceptibility to life-threatening infections and cancers, because it indiscriminately and broadly suppresses immune function throughout the body. While the use of these drugs has been justifiable because they prevent or delay organ rejection, their use for treatment of autoimmune diseases and allergies may not be acceptable because of the above-mentioned side effects. Furthermore, transplanted organs often ultimately fail despite the use of immune suppression, and about 40% of transplanted organs survive no more than 5 years.

New, focused therapeutic approaches are needed that modulate only the small portion of immune cells that are involved in rejection of the transplanted organ, as this approach can be safer for patients than indiscriminate immune suppression. Such approaches are referred to as immune tolerance, and when therapeutically induced, may be safer for patients and also potentially allow long-term survival of transplanted tissues and organs.

We are commercializing a nucleic acid-based technology called Apoptotic DNA Immunotherapy (ADI™) which utilizes a novel approach that mimics the way our bodies naturally induce tolerance to our own tissues (therapeutically induced immune tolerance). ADI is a technology platform, which we believe can be engineered to address a wide variety of indications.

We are developing ADI products for organ transplantation including skin grafting, autoimmune diseases, and allergies, with the initial focus on skin allografts and psoriasis.

ADI Advantages

ADI is a nucleic acid-based technology (i.e., plasmid DNA-based) which we believe selectively suppresses only those immune cells involved in the rejection of tissue and organ transplants. It does so by tapping into the body’s natural process of cell death (apoptosis) to reprogram the immune system to stop unwanted attacks on self or transplanted tissues. Apoptosis is a natural process of “immune tolerance” used by the body to clear dying cells and to allow recognition and tolerance to self tissue. ADI triggers this process enabling the natural immune system cells to recognize the targeted tissues as “self”. Conceptually, it is designed to retrain the immune system to become accepting of the organ similar to how natural apoptosis reminds our immune system to be tolerant to our own “self” tissues.

While efforts have been made by various groups to promote tolerance through cell therapies and ex vivo manipulation of patient cells (takes place outside the body typically requiring hospitalization), to our knowledge, we will be unique in our approach of using in-body induction of apoptosis to promote tolerance to specific tissues. In addition, ADI treatment itself will not require hospitalization, only an injection in minute amounts into the skin.

doctors performing surgery

While immunosuppressants control acute rejection during the early time-period after receiving an organ, chronic rejection of the organ that occurs one or more years after the transplant procedure continues to pose a major challenge for organ recipients.

Chronic rejection has been likened to autoimmunity (a misdirected immune response that occurs when the immune system goes awry), where specific tissues in the transplanted organ are attacked by the immune system. In other words, chronic rejection may not be caused just by differences between the donor and the recipient, but rather by an immune response by the recipient to specific tissues in the organ. Our pre-clinical studies suggest that ADI has the ability to tolerize to specific tissues in a transplanted organ, and conceivably, reducing incidences of chronic rejection.

Moreover, preclinical studies have demonstrated that ADI treatment significantly and substantially prolongs graft survival, in addition to successfully “reversing” other established immune-mediated inflammatory processes.

illustration of hands and kidneys

Studies in animal models have shown that conditioning/desensitizing the animals to receive the transplant, prolongs the survival of the transplanted tissue or organ. These studies have used repeated exposure to low doses of protein components in specific organs to reduce immunologic recognition and attack on the transplanted organ.

Based on some of our data, we believe that with ADI treatment, recipients can be conditioned/desensitized ahead of transplantation, thereby retraining the immune system to more readily accept the organ and also reduce the levels of immunosuppressive drugs needed post-transplantation.

nurse smiling at little girl

Studies have shown that presence of preformed antibodies prior to transplantation procedures increases the rate of organ rejection. Preformed antibodies can develop in previously-transplanted patients, patients who have given birth, and patients who have previously received blood transfusions. With more than 113,000 patients on transplant waiting lists in the U.S. alone, patients with pre-existing antibodies have much lower chances at qualifying to receive organs due to their increased risk of rejection – even with immune suppression.

Sadly, transplanted patients have a probability of needing re-transplantation at some point due to eventual chronic rejection of their transplanted organ, with the possible exception of some newborn recipients. With increased incidence of preformed antibodies, these patients may never have the opportunity to receive another organ. Based on experimental data, we believe that ADI may have the potential to address this issue providing these individuals better opportunities at receiving an organ transplantation.

ADI Technology Platform

ADI utilizes a novel approach that mimics the way our bodies naturally induce tolerance to our own tissues. It includes two DNA molecules which are designed to deliver signals to induce tolerance. ADI has been successfully tested in several preclinical models (skin grafting, psoriaris, type 1 diabetes, alopecia areata) and its efficacy can be attributed to multiple factors:

  • ADI does not rely on a single mechanistic approach. It has multiple components (interchangeable target antigen, apoptosis, methylated plasmid DNA) that affect different arms of the immune system, which can be manipulated.
  • ADI activates key immune cells known to maintain tolerance in test animals and humans.
  • ADI has been successfully applied to a stringent transplantation model.
  • ADI lends itself to repeat dosing, which may be required to achieve its full potential therapeutic effect.

Adimune™ Leadership

Joachim-Friedrich Kapp, MD, PhD

Joachim-Friedrich Kapp, MD, PhD


Brings over 3 decades of experience with regulatory agencies such as the FDA and its European counterparts. Board certified in Pharmacology & Toxicology, and Clinical Pharmacology. Former President Global Business Unit (GBU) Specialized Therapeutics at Schering AG.


amro albanna - co-ceo

Amro Albanna


Founded eight startups to commercialize innovations in various industries including enterprise software, research incubation, GPS & wireless, nano sensors, consumer health and biotech. Led multiple M&A and going-public transactions as a founder, co-founder and/or senior executive.



graphics of dna strand with a glowing molecule

Reversal of Hyperglycemia and Suppression of Type 1 Diabetes in the NOD Mouse with Apoptotic DNA Immunotherapy™ (ADi™), ADi-100

The goal of immunoregulatory DNA vaccination is the antigen- and tissue-specific suppression of pathological inflammation that underlies immune-mediated inflammatory disorders like autoimmune diseases and allograft rejection.

a set of test vials

Recent patents on immunoregulatory DNA vaccines for autoimmune diseases and allograft rejection

The goal of immunoregulatory DNA vaccination is the antigen- and tissue-specific suppression of pathological inflammation that underlies immune-mediated inflammatory disorders like autoimmune diseases and allograft rejection.

a lab technician filling vials

A therapeutic DNA vaccination strategy for autoimmunity and transplantation

De novo autoimmunity induced by an allograft may play a significant role in chronic organ rejection, which remains a major barrier to successful transplantation.

a lab technician filling vials

DNA vaccines for transplantation

DNA vaccination could reduce the need for systemic immunosuppressants and be applied to prevention of chronic rejection, which remains a major barrier to successful allotransplantation.

composite graphic of tablets and eye droppers

Saving Death: Apoptosis for intervention in transplantation and autoimmunity

Long considered immunologically “bland,” apoptotic cells are now recognized as important modulators of immune responses.