Lund based startup Asgard Therapeutics has reported they have been awarded the second step of Vinnova’s Innovative Startup program in order to further develop a new cancer immunotherapy based on dendritic cell reprogramming.

Cancer remains one of the major challenges to modern society affecting one third of all people in Europe. Cancer immunotherapies use the body’s own immune system to help fight cancer. Despite significant strides in developing immunotherapies, currently available treatments are highly effective in only a small proportion of patients and come with high price tags. There is thus an urgent need for innovative cost-effective immunotherapies effective in a broader range of cancer patients.

Asgard Therapeutics is developing TrojanDC, a Trojan horse therapy to enter tumors and incite revolution, by reprogramming cancer cells to become traitors to their kind. TrojanDC is a gene therapy that delivers reprogramming factors into the tumors forcing cancer cells to become antigen-presenting dendritic cells and induce targeted immune responses. Thus, Asgard’s approach bypasses cancer evasion mechanisms in an off-the-shelf, completely personalized therapy system.

“We have previously received Vinnova’s support through Innovative Startups Step 1 to develop our IP and regulatory strategy. We are very pleased to now receive the Step 2 grant that will allow us to consolidate our business case.” says Cristiana Pires, CEO of Asgard Therapeutics.

Innovative Startups Step 2 program is promoted by Swedish Innovation Agency Vinnova to support companies to further develop the solution or business from Step 1 project. Financial support from Step 2, 800 000 SEK, will be used to strengthen Asgard Therapeutics’ technical and commercial strategic roadmap. These activities, combined with ongoing R&D, will allow Asgard to secure funding investment required to start producing GMP-grade TrojanDC and enter pivotal non-clinical trials.