Lund, Sweden – 5 April – Asgard Therapeutics AB (“Asgard”) announces today that, in cooperation with the consortium members, Lund University, InSphero and Antineo, it has officially kicked-off the earlier announced Eurostars project. The project REPRogramming tumors INTo immune cells: a revolutionary gene therapy to treat cancer (REPRINT) will focus on providing definitive proof-of-principle for the use of the novel cancer immunotherapy TrojanDC developed by Asgard for the treatment of hard-to-treat solid tumors.
Asgard, a private biotech company based in Lund, Sweden, is developing a paradigm-shifting cancer immunotherapy approach, based on its proprietary TrojanDC technology, to reinstate cancer immunogenicity. TrojanDC is a gene therapy that reprograms cancer cells into type-1 conventional dendritic cells, allowing the presentation of their own antigens to the immune system, thereby eliciting potent anti-cancer immune responses. In the context of this grant, Asgard collaborates with the partners to validate TrojanDC’s efficacy in ex vivo human spheroid models and 3D bioprinted models as well as in vivo rodent models. In vivo safety and pharmacology evaluation of TrojanDC will also be performed, bringing the gene therapy closer to IND-ready stage.
The Eurostars programme supports innovative international projects led by R&D-performing SMEs and is co-funded by the Eurostars partner states and the EU (through Horizon 2020). In October 2021, Asgard announced that together with three other partners it has been awarded the Eurostars project REPRINT (project number E!115376). The project started in 2021 October 1st with an online meeting but now the partners were able to meet in-person for an official kick-off event, held at Smile Incubator, Lund and hosted by Asgard. The three-year proposal was ranked #4 out of 644 European applications for Eurostars Cut off 15, and thereby secured a grant of 2 million euros.
Cristiana Pires, PhD, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Asgard Therapeutics, said: “The kick-off event was a great success! We had the chance to discuss the first results of the project and align on the next steps to use the Eurostars grant to further validate TrojanDC efficacy and safety. TrojanDC preclinical development will be accelerated within this grant allowing us to explore its game-changing properties. Designed as an off-the-shelf gene therapy, TrojanDC induces a personalized immune response, and thus overcomes many of the logistic and manufacturing hurdles of conventional cell-based therapies.”
Filipe Pereira head of the Cell Reprogramming in Hematopoiesis Group of the LSCC commented: “The Pereira lab was excited to meet all partners of this multidisciplinary collaboration with academic and industrial partners. We are grateful to join forces paving the way for an entirely new cancer immunotherapy platform based on cellular reprogramming. By bringing our knowledge in ex-vivo and in-vivo dendritic cell reprogramming we will help advancing the pre-clinical development of an off-the-shelf gene therapy for cancer. We are keen to explore and unravel new possibilities of the cDC1 reprogramming approach developed at our lab!”
Wolfgang Moritz, Head of Ext. Collaborations and IP at InSphero AG commented: “InSphero is pleased to be part of this exciting project aiming at a ground-breaking new therapeutic approach for a variety of different cancer indications. During the meeting, we had an interesting discussion on our first steps in the project and coordinated the development activities with other consortium members. Our 3D in vitro technology will be used in the project to evaluate the clinical benefits, but also characterize the safety profile associated with the reprogramming process and induced immune responses. InSphero’s goal is to develop a new in vitro platform for simultaneous testing of on- and off- target effects of novel immuno-therapy strategies to cure cancer.”
Elsa Kress, CBO of Antineo, said: “Antineo is thrilled to be involved in the preclinical development of such a game-changing therapy! It will be a great opportunity for us to develop ex vivo assays based on 3D-bioprinting tumoral and non tumoral cells. It will add a new, innovative and 3R-compliant are of preclinical services."
For more information:
Cristiana Pires, CEO of Asgard Therapeutics, coordinator of the REPRINT project, firstname.lastname@example.org
About Asgard Therapeutics
SmiLe Incubator company 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 Therapeutics aims to build a pipeline of personalized cancer immunotherapies optimized to each unique patient. For more information, please visit: http://asgardthx.com/
About LSCC, Lund University
Lund University Stem Cell Center (LSCC) is one of six Swedish strategic centers of excellence in life sciences. Dr. Filipe Pereira is head of the Cell Reprogramming in Hematopoiesis Group of the LSCC and considered an influential researcher in the cell reprogramming field with >45 publications, >3,300 citations. Find more at http://www.pereiralab.com/.
Antineo is a French private Contract Research Organization specialized in Preclinical Oncology. Antineo specializes in exploring the characteristics and effects of new compounds using cutting-edge technologies and our extensive bank of preclinical human and murine tumor models. Our team and scientific committee consist of scientists, oncologists and haematologists with international level expertise in onco-pharmacology, providing a strategic vision for short and medium-term development strategies.
INSPHERO AG – is a Swiss SME founded in 2009 with the aim to provide in vitro testing of novel drugs with its robust and physiologically relevant suite of 3D InSight™ Microtissues. The company specializes in delivering custom 3D models derived from liver, pancreatic islet, and tumor tissues, providing unrivalled biological insights into liver toxicology, metabolic diseases and oncology (focus on immuno-oncology). The company has standing collaborations with major pharmaceutical companies (e.g., Roche Pharma, Astra Zeneca, Janssen) to increase efficiency in drug discovery and safety testing.
About EUREKA Eurostars
EUREKA is a publicly funded intergovernmental network with an aim to foster innovation-driven entrepreneurship in EU between both small and large industries, research institutes and universities. For more information visit https://www.eurekanetwork.org/countries/sweden/eurostars/.
In the Photo: In-person kick-off meeting of the Eurostars-funded REPRINT project. Top row from left to right: Ervin Aščić (Lund University), Hreinn Benónísson (Lund University), Michele Tavecchio (Asgard Therapeutics), André Rosa (Asgard Therapeutics). Middle row from left to right: Elsa Kress (Antineo), Irina Agarkova (Insphero), Michal Rudnik (Insphero), Olga Zimmermannova (Lund University), Nadezhda Rotankova (Insphero). Bottom row from left to right: Sanne Lock (Catalyze), Wolfgang Moritz (Insphero), Filipe Pereira (Lund University), Fritiöf Åkerström (Asgard Therapeutics), Cristiana Pires (Asgard Therapeutics), Malavika Nair (Lund University), Fábio Rosa (Asgard Therapeutics).
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