Interleukin-6 (IL-6) overproduction has been involved in the pathogenesis of several chronic inflammatory diseases and the administration of an anti-IL-6 receptor monoclonal antibody has been proven clinically efficient to treat them. However, the drawbacks of monoclonal antibodies have led our group to develop an innovative anti-IL-6 strategy using a peptide-based active immunization. This approach has previously shown its efficacy in a mouse model of systemic sclerosis. Here the safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy of this strategy was assessed in non human primates. No unscheduled death and clinical signs of toxicity was observed during the study. Furthermore, the cynomolgus monkeys immunized against the IL-6 peptide produced high levels of anti-IL-6 antibodies as well as neutralizing antibodies compared to control groups. They also showed an important decrease of the cumulative inflammatory score following a delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction induced by the Tetanus vaccine compared to control groups (minus 57,9%, P = 0.014). These findings are highly significant because the immunizing IL-6 peptide used in this study is identical in humans and in monkeys and this novel anti-IL-6 strategy could thus represent a promising alternative to monoclonal antibodies.
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