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Alumna’s Biotech Firm Receives Funding from JDRF

Leslie Williams

ImmusanT secures funding for peptide immunotherapy research

Leslie Jansa Williams (BSN ’82), founder, president and CEO of ImmusanT, a biotechnology company focused on developing treatment, diagnostic and monitoring tools for patients with autoimmune diseases such as Celiac disease, received an investment from the JDRF T1D Fund, a venture philanthropy fund exclusively devoted to finding and funding the best type 1 diabetes (T1D) commercial opportunities.

The following excerpt is from ImmusanT’s press release:

“The funding marks the JDRF T1D Fund’s first direct investment in ImmusanT and in peptide immunotherapy, an approach that has the potential to positively alter the immune response involved in multiple autoimmune diseases. With the funds, ImmusanT plans to accelerate the translation of insights and clinical experience gained from its celiac disease program to the development of a novel vaccine candidate for T1D. The company’s lead candidate, Nexvax2®, a peptide-based therapeutic vaccine, has demonstrated safety and relevant bioactivity in multiple Phase 1 studies for celiac disease, an-HLA associated disease with many similarities to T1D.”

“This is an exciting time for ImmusanT as we expand the application of our Epitope-Specific Immuno-Therapy platform beyond celiac disease to advance the development of a vaccine for T1D, a disease for which there is significant unmet medical need,” said Williams. “With the support of the JDRF T1D Fund, we are optimistic that we have the right resources to advance our technology and positively impact the lives of those living with this debilitating disease.”

Williams was a 2015 recipient of the University of Iowa Center for Advancement’s Distinguished Alumni Awards, the center’s highest honor which recognizes significant accomplishments in business or professional life or a distinguished human service to the community, state, or nation. Williams, who was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and grew up in Gowrie, Iowa, has earned international acclaim in a career where she oversees the development of technological breakthroughs capable of radically improving human lives.

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About ImmusanT, Inc.
ImmusanT is leveraging its Epitope-Specific Immuno-Therapy (ESIT) platform to discover, develop and deliver first-in-class peptide-based immune therapies to patients living with autoimmune diseases such as celiac disease, Type-1 diabetes and other human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-linked diseases. ImmusanT is also using its technology and deep understanding of the immune system to develop new diagnostics that have the potential to provide highly specific and highly accurate diagnoses of auto-immune diseases. Learn more at

Posted On: 
Sep 13th, 2018