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Establishing immune tolerance in multiple sclerosis with peptide-coupled red blood cells

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The purpose of ETIMSred is to develop a long-lasting therapy for multiple sclerosis (MS) that specifically targets the harmful autoimmune response without affecting the rest of the immune system.

Project Description

With approximately 2.5 million patients worldwide, multiple sclerosis (MS) is one of the most common causes of permanent neurological disability in young adults.

So far, there is no cure for MS. Current treatments merely reduce the incidence of disease relapse, and they carry the risk of severe side effects caused by inhibiting the patient’s immune system. What is needed is a long-lasting therapy that will specifically target the harmful autoimmune response without affecting the rest of the immune system.

A team led by Professor Roland Martin has developed an innovative therapy known as ETIMS (Establish Tolerance in MS). This therapy employs the patient’s white blood cells, chemically coupling them with myelin peptides. These altered blood cells then target the immune cells responsible for inflammation and stop the autoimmune process by educating the immune system to tolerate structures such as myelin. This approach has been successfully tested in MS patients in a first-in-man trial.

At Wyss Zurich, the ETIMSred team has advanced this therapy by using red instead of white blood cells to induce immune tolerance. Since it is easier to collect a large number of red blood cells from patients, this approach has substantially improved the feasibility of the treatment. A key objective of the ETIMSred project is also to establish the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of this new approach in a Phase I/II clinical trial in MS patients.

ETIMSred’s startup company Cellerys signed a cooperation agreement with Novartis in June 2021. Novartis will now support further development of the therapy, which is currently in a Phase II clinical trial.


Cellerys AG
+41 41 544 98 80

Faculty Mentor

Roland Martin

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Wyss Zurich project completion

The project ETIMSred exits Wyss Zurich and continues operations in its startup company Cellerys AG.

Cellerys enters cooperation with Novartis

Novartis has signed a cooperation agreement and an option to acquire Cellerys

Extension of Phase Ib clinical trial completed

The last patient in the Phase Ib extension study was treated.

Completion of Phase Ib clinical trial

All patients in the Phase Ib trial have been treated.

Phase Ib clinical trial start

The Phase Ib headed by Professor Andreas Lutterotti starts in October 2017.

Cellerys AG incorporation

The UZH spin-off ETIMSred is incorporated under the name Cellerys AG.

Wyss Zurich admission

ETIMSred is accepted as full project.

Core Team

Andreas lutterotti portrait

Andreas Lutterotti

Project Leader

Maria jose docampo portrait

Maria Jose Docampo


Magdalena foege portrait

Magdalena Foege

Regulatory Affairs Expert

Mireia sospedra portrait

Mireia Sospedra

Senior Scientist

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