Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Neobe Therapeutics

Tumour-busting microbes transform cancer treatment

Health & Wellbeing

By changing the microenvironment of tumours, the technology improves immunotherapy

Spotted: Immunotherapies have become an indispensable tool in cancer treatment. However, many types of cancer still do not respond to them, with overall response rates being between 15-20 per cent and a particular resistance to treatment shown in patients with solid tumours. One synthetic biology startup, Neobe Therapeutics, hopes to change this. 

One reason why traditional immunotherapy doesn’t work on some tumours is because of the local microenvironment they create, which prevents drugs and cancer-reactive immune cells from getting through and targeting the tumour. 

In response, Neobe Therapeutics has created a platform to engineer safe microbial strains – or “programmable microscopic trojan horses” – that disrupt these hard-to-infiltrate microenvironments. The biotherapeutics break down stromal barriers that protect a tumour without affecting healthy tissues, enabling immune cells to target the tumour. 

The method means that patients who had previously been resistant to treatment may now be able to undergo effective immunotherapy. So far, the company has developed two proprietary products to help patients with colorectal, pancreatic, and breast cancer.

The startup has just closed a $2.34 million (around €2.18 million) financing round. Co-founder and CEO Pedro Correa de Sampaio told Springwise: “Our work in the coming year will focus on building our pre-clinical data package together with initial validation from the regulators, as well as fine-tuning our biosensor platform. We then aim to use that data to raise our next fundraising round next year, which will open the way for our first IND filing and first in human trials by 2027.”

Springwise has spotted other ways that cancer treatment is being drastically improved, including directed evolution therapies and AI that enables much earlier diagnosis.

Written By: Lauryn Berry and Matilda Cox



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