Asgard Therapeutics reaches a major research milestone in the development of a new type of cancer treatment

SmiLe Incubator

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 methodologyapproximately 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[1], 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 [1].

[1] DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.abg5539

For more information please contact:

Asgard Therapeutics

Fábio Rosa, Co-founder and Head of Research

+46 (0) 763 059 937