News from a company in SmiLe Incubator, Lund, Sweden: Asgard Therapeutics AB has reached an important milestone in the development of its lead gene therapy product- TrojanDC, a paradigm-shifting cancer immunotherapy based in cell reprogramming. Through pioneering research, the founders of the company have increased the efficiency of their reprogramming methodology approximately 190-fold, allowing efficient conversion of multiple human cell-types into dendritic cells (DCs) able to set in motion immune responses.
Dendritic cells (DCs) are immune sentinels specialized in the detection of foreign entities, such as cancer cells, processing and presentation of their antigens to induce antigen-specific immune responses. DCs are a rare and heterogenous family of immune cells, including the specific subset of conventional type 1 DC (cDC1) which is the most efficient in driving anti-cancer immune responses. However, cDC1s are found in very limiting numbers in our body and are very difficult to generate in vitro. These problems severely limit the study of cDC1s and their refinement for cancer therapy.
Asgard Therapeutics, a spin-off of Lund University founded by the researchers Filipe Pereira, Cristiana Pires, and Fábio Rosa, and now located in the Smile Incubator, uses an entirely new approach to cancer treatment. The company is developing TrojanDC, a novel cancer immunotherapy that reprograms cancer cells into functional cDC1s, forcing cancer cells to present their specific antigens to T cells and inducing a strong anti-cancer immune response. Recently, the company closed a seed investment from Novo Holdings, Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund and Industrifonden that will allow the company to build a pipeline of cancer immunotherapies exploring in-vivo cell reprogramming.
In this new study, the scientific founders of Asgard Therapeutics used state-of-the-art single-cell analysis to follow the reprogramming of human cells into cDC1s, and explored how gene expression of the starting cell is silenced and the cDC1 program is activated. They used this information to understand what barriers were limiting the conversion process and improve the efficiency of the conversion from 1% to over 60% in multiple human cell types.
“We have previously demonstrated efficient reprogramming of mouse cells do cDC1s, but reprogramming efficiency in human cells was low. In this new study, we have shown a drastic improvement of the reprogramming process in human cells reaching over 60% efficiency. Importantly, we induce specifically DCs affiliated with cDC1 and not a mixed population of the different subsets. We also illuminated the underlying cooperative mechanism of the three factors, key to the whole reprogramming process. This is a major breakthrough for the development of TrojanDC and cDC1-based immunotherapies,” says Fábio Rosa, co-founder and head of research at Asgard Therapeutics.
The latest research is recently published in the prestigious scientific journal Science Immunology .
For more information please contact:
Fábio Rosa, Co-founder and Head of Research
+46 (0) 763 059 937
About Asgard Therapeutics:
Asgard Therapeutics is a private biotech company exploring the application of direct cell reprogramming technologies for cancer immunotherapies. Formed as a spin-off from Lund University, the Company is pioneering a gene therapy approach based on its proprietary TrojanDC technology, designed to set in motion immune responses based on the biological properties of professional antigen presenting cells. Backed by Novo Holdings, Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund and Industrifonden, Asgard aims to build a pipeline of personalized cancer immunotherapies optimized to each unique patient. For more information, please visit: http://asgardthx.com/
SmiLe Incubator is a life science business incubator based in Medicon Village in Lund, Sweden. SmiLe helps entrepreneurs commercialize their ideas. There are currently 25 companies in SmiLe which, together with alumni companies, have attracted more than EUR 460 million in venture capital to date since 2014. SmiLe offers excellent business coaching, a broad international network of contacts and a dynamic community, as well as well-equipped laboratories which is unique of its kind in Sweden. SmiLe is a non-profit organization and receives basic funding from Region Skåne, Lund Municipality, Lund University and Medicon Village. SmiLe´s sponsors are Agilent, Sparbanken Skåne, Awa, Høiberg, Prevas, Setterwalls, Zacco, Aqilion. SmiLe’s listed alumni companies have a market capitalization of EUR 1,3 billion (Q1 2021). www.smileincubator.life