In-person kick-off meeting of the Eurostars-funded REPRINT
· The REPRINT project aims to develop a revolutionary gene therapy based in in-vivo immune cell reprogramming to reinstate anti-cancer immunity
· The project involves 4 consortium partners, Asgard Therapeutics AB (SE, project coordinator), Lund University (SE), InSphero (CH) and Antineo (FR)
· The 3-year project started in October 2021 but now the members have met each other in-person for an official kick-off meeting
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."