One of the principal hurdles of immunotherapy development nowadays is the identification of proper tumor antigens, namely proteins exclusively -or predominantly- expressed on tumor cells able to guide a specific antitumor immune response.
iRASP Therapeutics is an innovative preclinical platform developed at the European Institute of Oncology (IEO), under the leadership of Dr. Paul E. Massa, Prof. Pier Giuseppe Pelicci and Prof. Saverio Minucci. iRASP aims to create new immunotherapies against currently untargetable human tumors by employing an “antigen agnostic” approach, meaning by selecting directly in vivo novel antibodies targeting human tumor cells, without prior knowledge of the specific target protein (the antigen) expressed by the tumor cells, on the basis of their ability to recognize tumor cells while interacting in a negligible way with healthy cells.
iRASP enabled the identification of a first antibody candidate for the treatment of relapsed and primary acute T lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) via the targeting of a previously unknown antigen.
Thanks to a total funding of approximately 900k Euros by Extend, the project is now entering a new phase of preclinical development through a milestones-based path, that if successful would lead to the incorporation of a dedicated Start-up company ensuring the progression of the asset into clinical development.
Extend is the National Technology Transfer Hub entirely dedicated to the biopharmaceutical sector, namely a platform that brings together scientific, technical and business expertise with the final aim of supporting the exploitation of research results in an industrial setting, to ultimately translate new scientific discoveries into actual patients’ benefit. Extend is an initiative created by CDP Venture Capital -through its Tech Transfer Fund- and with the co-investment of Evotec and Angelini Ventures.
Thanks to the joint effort of the scientists involved -Dr. Paul Massa, Prof. Pier Giuseppe Pelicci, Prof. Saverio Minucci-, and the team of IEO-TT, the IEO Technology Transfer Office – coordinated by Dr. Marzia Fumagalli -, with the support and trust of Extend together with the expertise of Evotec, the new immunotherapy developed at IEO is making a step forward towards its potential clinical exploitation for the treatment of T-ALL patients.
Moreover, iRASP has been applied to other tumor types leading to the identification of several potential candidate antibodies, demonstrating its exploitability for the identification of therapeutic antibodies in virtually any tumor type.