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Klaus Ley

Head, Division of Inflammation Biology, UC San Diego

Dr. Klaus Ley, M.D. is Professor and Head of the Division of Inflammation Biology at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology and Adjunct Professor of Bioengineering at the University of California, San Diego. He trained at Julius-Maximilians-Univer¬sität in Würzburg, Germany and was a Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Virginia from 1994 to 2007.

Klaus Ley studies chronic inflammatory diseases like atherosclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease with a focus on myeloid leukocytes (cells of the innate immune system). He has 30 years of experience in inflammation research and published more than 300 papers in peer-reviewed journals. He received more than $ 30 million in research funding from the National Institutes of Health. He is the recipient of the 2008 Bonazinga Award, the highest award of the Society for Leukocyte Biology and the 2010 Malpighi Award, the highest award of the European Society for Microcirculation.




Key Words:

adhesion molecules, apolipoprotein B, chronic inflammatory diseases, dengue, inflammation, mouse, treg cells, atherosclerosis vaccine.

Prof. Klaus Ley and his research team primarily focus on studying inflammation and in the recent years have investigated the roles of adhesion molecules in acute and chronic inflammation with the ultimate goal to develop methods to control inflammation. The lab has gained significant understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in the inflammation process and this knowledge can be applied to designing a remedy for chronic inflammatory diseases such as atherosclerosis. Prof. Klaus Ley is developing a vaccine for atherosclerosis in partnership with an industrial partner.

At present, the development is in its preclinical stages where mouse studies have shown promising data - significant reduction in the atherosclerotic plaque was observed in the treated mice.  These data are encouraging as there is no vaccine for chronic inflammatory diseases. All approved vaccines are indicated for infectious agents. As per the CDC report (1), heart disease claims nearly 610,000 people every year. There is a significant unmet need even in the developed worlds and a vaccine for atherosclerosis would be a major breakthrough in the field. The strategy to get atherosclerosis vaccine to the clinic involves developing a vaccine based on inducing Treg cells to apolipoprotein B (ApoB). The industry collaborator is equipped with manufacturing GMP grade products for the Phase I study. So far only mouse models have been developed where it is desired to have a second animal model ---rabbits, pigs, non-human primate. Also, there is little information on the vaccine dosage regimen design---frequency, dose, route of application. The lab has identified an adjuvant that will likely boost the immune response of the atherosclerosis vaccine.

Some gaps in the research development are a lack of robust protein engineering. An efficient protein engineering model would help design neutralizing antibodies that can elicit good immune response. So far the focus has been on epitopes, adjuvants, and formulation.

In order to advance the translational work, Prof. Ley recognizes that there is a need for a business development professional who can help us ramp up the business aspect translational research---identifying companies, negotiating with VCs, protecting interests of LJI. Also, it is Dr. Ley’s vision to build an incubator where ideas can be tested over limited time.

Prof Ley collaborates with Profs. Alex Sette, Shane Crotty, Bjoern Peters at LJI and Ziad Mallat at the University of Cambridge outside of LJI. The vaccine translational efforts require more tie ups with other collaborators in particular with Pharma companies.

More information about Dr. Ley’s research work can be found here: