90% of all deaths caused by cancer are caused by the spreading of cancer in the body (metastases). Therefore, there is a need for treatments that are able to cure patients with metastases and not only extend life.
Educating the immune system
The liposomes contain well defined immune stimulating compounds. The immune stimulating compounds are termed “Toll-Like Receptor agonists” and they mimic components from viral infections. The new type of cancer immunotherapy is based on the injection of immune stimulating nanoparticles. The immune stimulating nanoparticles consist of so-called liposomes which are small spherical particles that are able to function as a vehicle for drugs.
Within minutes after being injected into the blood stream, the nanoparticles are able to specifically target key immune cells termed monocytes. The monocytes are activated by the Toll-Like Receptor agonists which make the monocytes able to activate the immune system to recognise and eliminate metastasis in the cancer patients, optimally leading to a cure of the patients. The technology is particularly powerful in combination with other types of treatment traditionally used for the treatment of patients today like radiation and chemotherapy.
Development of the technology
in a collaboration between researchers at DTU Nanotech and the company Bioneer. The technology has been further developed and matured at DTU Nanotech to demonstrate the application of the technology for cancer immunotherapeutic applications. A number of Proof-of-Concept studies are currently carried out in mouse tumour models as well as in blood from cancer patients. The technology was developed
The project has been part of the activities at DTU Nanotech in the Colloids and Biological Interfaces research group, headed by Professor Thomas Lars Andresen. Thomas Andresen says that “the possibility to work on this project at DTU Nanotech has created the basis for performing a large number of experiments thus generating a strong data package. This gives us the best possible chances of attracting investors to this very promising technology, so that we can continue the work towards clinical testing in humans”.
Funding and Investment
The team behind the technology has attracted funding from Novo Seeds through a Pre-Seed grant in August 2014. This is the largest grant to a single project from Novo Seeds, donated with the aim to mature the technology for a seed investment and to reduce risks of failures in the later stages of development.
“The grant from Novo Seeds was a great achievement since only very few projects are approved each year, and only projects with large commercial potential as well as a competent team receive support”, says Simon Skjøde Jensen, currently Senior project manager at DTU Nanotech and future CEO of MonTa Biosciences.
Simon Skjøde Jensen continues: “We aim for a seed investment by the end of 2015, and hope that Novo Seeds will be our lead investor, potentially with a co-investor from the venture or corporate venture segment.
The project also achieved a grant from Copenhagen-Spin-Out, to support the acceleration of the project towards a successful Proof-Of-Concept and initiate the first commercial steps towards a seed investment.
Test in humans
MonTa Biosciences plan to develop the technology towards tests in cancer patients within 2-3 years. The early development stage involves scale up of the nanoparticle production in a GMP production of the nanoparticles. This is followed by toxicity studies and more experimental studies to support the appropriate design of a Phase I clinical trial to establish the dose and safety of the treatment in cancer patients.
At present, international collaborations have been established with clinical centres in both the UK and the US, where the technology will be tested in blood derived from cancer patients. It is expected that these studies will support further development of the nanoparticles to test the optimised technology directly in cancer patients.
You can find more information about the company at www.montabiosciences.com.