Targeting new biology in the tumor microenvironment

The tumor microenvironment is a complex structure of cancer cells recruiting innate immune cells to protect the tumor and promote its growth. Disrupting this interplay is a potent tool for cancer therapies. Genagon pioneered a way to target macrophages and cancer cells and by disturbing the dynamic lifecycle of proteins within the tumor microenvironment. Targeting harmful tumor-associated macrophages directly paves the way for novel ways to target and eradicate tumors.

 

The dual role of macrophages

Tumor-associated macrophages present a unique challenge when dealing with cancers like Hodgkin Lymphoma, pancreatic cancer, and many others. Normally macrophages  are versatile immunocytes, engulfing pathogens and foreign debris, promoting tissue development, and assisting in wound healing. This versatility works against the body when macrophages are associated with different cancers; they can initiate tumor development, drive tumor growth, and provide various supporting factors to protect the tumor cells and metastasis and tumor invasion. The close relationship between macrophages and tumor cells also makes them an exciting avenue for treatment. Their multifaceted presence in the tumor microenvironment provides several paths for treatment, and immunotherapies targeting macrophages have the potential to make waves in the oncotherapy landscape.

 

Opportunity in cancer

Checkpoint blockade-targeting therapies in the adaptive immune system like the PD-1/PDL1 and CTLA-4 demonstrate the power of antibody treatments for targeting cancer. These therapies broke new in cancer therapy by efficiently modulating the adaptive immune system to attack the cancer. However, the blockade was not enough to completely eradicate tumors. Macrophages’ ability to block infiltration of other immune cells is a major roadblock for PD1/PD-L1 clinical efficacy today.

High infiltration of macrophages in tumors has resulted in unfavorable prognosis and ineffective treatment outcomes in past studies. Targeting macrophages in cancer treatment shows promise as a tool in combination with other checkpoint blockades to eradicate tumors that we fail to treat today.

 

About

Genagon Therapeutics’s drug development is based on discoveries of unstudied proteins and their life cycles in innate immune cells.
Genagon was founded in 2015 and is growing a strong and broad patent portfolio with opportunities for internal development and future partnerships.
The company is supported financially by among others, Beijer Ventures and Almi Invest

Team

Moa Fransson, Ph.D

CEO –  PhD in Gene and Immunotherapy and has since graduating worked in a variety of institutions dealing with project management and innovation. Awarded numerous scholarship for doctoral and postdoctoral research and previous trained at the Business Lab at the Uppsala Innovation Center and is a co-founder of BioFlow systems AB.

Simon Fredriksson, Ph.D 

Founder and EVP – Experienced life science entrepreneur. Co-founder and former CSO and CEO of Olink AB. Research at Uppsala and Stanford Universities has resulting in multiple high impact papers in Nature Biotech, PNAS, Nature Methods. 10 patents have been commercialized into products at Olink, Agilent, and ThermoFisher, especially the Proximity Ligation and Proximity Extension assays for multiplex protein detection. Previously Board member of Olink AB (9 years), Biolamina AB (6 years). Presently Board member of Cartana AB and Olink Proteomics AB.

Andries Blokzijl, MD Ph.D

Founder and scientific advisor – Licensed physician and researcher in signal transduction. Developed Genagon’s in-house immune cell signaling decoding process. Highly cited publications in journals such as Nature Methods, Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, Genes & Dev, J Cell Biol.

Cecilia Drakskog, Msc, BMA

Scientist – Immununologist and infection biologist with experience in assay development from Stockholm University and Karolinska Institute with a broad background in laboratory management.

Anders Nordström, Chairman

Mr. Nordström has a long and versatile professional experience from executive positions in Life Science companies such as CFO, Executive Vice President and as a Board Member in global life science companies and Startup companies e.g. Halo Genomics. He has held executive positions in Phadia, Pharmacia as well as in ArthroCare International including international assignments in the US and Canada. He is currently working as Senior Advisor, Business Development at Uppsala Innovation Centre and has served as Chairman of the Board in several companies e.g. OssDsign, Vanadis Diagnostics, ExScale Biospecimen Solutions.  Mr. Nordström has a BSc in Business Administration and Economics from University of Uppsala, Sweden.

Svein Mathisen

M.Sc. in engineering physics from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. More than 25 years of experience in various senior positions in the Norsk Hydro Group and as CEO of BioInvent International AB. Chairman of the Boards of iCell Science AB and Gabather AB. Board member of Athera Biotechnologies AB and Arild Capital AB. Previous appointments (last five years): Board member and CEO of BioInvent International AB, Chairman of the Board of Biotec Pharmacon ASA and Board member of the industry organization Sweden Bio.

Richard Åhlberg, MD Ph.D 

PhD in immunology, is chief physician at Karolinska University Hospital. He is an experienced life science board member. He has vast experience from the pharmaceutical industry with focus on immuno-oncology from his previous positions as Medical Director and Business Director Oncology at Roche AB. For five years he was the Country Manager for Aleris Healthcare Sweden.

Karin von Wachenfeldt, Ph.D

Karin has a strong scientific expertise in pharmaceutical development of large and small molecules. She obtained her Ph. D in 1993 from Dept. of Immunotechnology at Lund University. Karin has over 20 years of experience from the pharmaceutical industry (BioInvent, Ixsys Inc. PharmaciaUpjohn, Active Biotech and AstraZeneca) developing drugs for cancer and Respiratory/Inflammation. Since 2011 she is the CEO and co-founder of Truly Translational Sweden AB.

Johan Lund, Ph.D

Dr Johan Lund is currently CEO of KyNexis, a startup company he has co-founded in Sweden, and Chairman of the Board of Aqilion. Prior to this he spent 20 years in pharmaceutical industry leading Research and Early Development groups within Celgene, Pfizer and AstraZeneca in Sweden, UK and USA. Most recently he was SVP and Chief Scientific Officer for Immunoscience at Pfizer, Cambridge, MA and VP of Immunology & Inflammation Research and Early Development for Celgene, based in Cambridge, MA. Earlier in his career Dr Lund was Associate Professor at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm and Professor and Chairman of the Anatomy and Cell Biology Department, University of Bergen Medical Faculty. He received his medical training at Karolinska Institutet where he also obtained his Ph.D, followed by post-doctoral training at UT Southwestern in Dallas.

Maarten de Chateau, MD, PhD

Maarten de Chateau is currently CEO of Sixera Pharma and Buzzard Pharmaceuticals. He serves as chairman of the board of Atrogi, and on the boards of AddBio, Cavis Technologies and Gesynta Pharma. Maarten was Co-founder and CEO of Cormorant Pharmaceuticals. The company developed a therapeutic antibody approach in immuno-oncology and was acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2016. Prior to that, Maarten held the position of Medical Director at Swedish Orphan Biovitrum, with medical and clinical development responsibility for two marketed products in the rare disease space. Before that, he worked in clinical development at Sanofi and also as a financial analyst at two investment banks for five years.

 

Roger Henriksson, MD, PhD

Senior professor and chief Physician, previous head of the Regional Cancer Centre in Stockholm Gotland and a member of the management  team of the The Stockholm County (2012-2018). In this position, he has had a leading role in implementing the national strategy to a regional cancer plan,  including to establish a concept of right care to the right patient at the right time. He was recruited to this position from being the head and the Physician-in-chief at the Department of Oncology and Radiotherapy (Radiumhemmet), Karolinska university hospital, Stockholm. He has been a co-director of the StratCan network in cancer research at the Karolinska and board member of the Cancer Center Karolinska (CCK). He was appointed on his first chair as Professor of experimental Oncology 1994 at Umeå university and as a senior consultant 1992 at the Department of Radiation Sciences & Oncology, Norrlands University Hospital, Umeå, Sweden. He has been head and deputy head of this department 1994 – 2003, Founder and Managing Director of the Cancer Research Unit 1987 -2008, Head of the division of Neuro-Oncology, lung cancer and malignant melanoma 1995 -2008. He has also previously been on a position for 7 years as part time Medical Director AstraZeneca Oncology Europe.  Henriksson has been the chairman and the deputy chairman of the Swedish Society of Oncology (1999-2003, 2011-2015). He has been  the chairman of the Scientific committee and Board Member of the European Association of Neuro-Oncology and the President of the EANO 2018 Congress in Stockholm. At present he is the track chair of the ESMO 2020 Congress in Madrid and member of the steering committee. Henriksson has published more than 370 original papers in peer‑reviewed journals, including articles in Nature Genetics, JCO, New Engl J Med, and the Lancet Oncology. He is also the author of numerous oncology chapters in professional medical textbooks. His main research is within the field of clinical and experimental oncology with a focus on brain tumours. More than 30 PhD students have had him as a supervisor, including physicians, experimental researchers and psychologist. He has got several awards from different research organisations and patient advocacy groups. Henriksson has also actively taking part in the establishment of patient advocacy groups in lung cancer and brain tumours.

 

Tom Boone

Tom Boone has more than 28 years of accomplishments in the discovery and development of protein therapeutics. Tom has worked at Amgen and served in positions of increasing responsibility in growing Amgen Protein Sciences to an organization of over 300 researchers across five different sites while maintaining a long tradition of industry excellence. His career at Amgen began in 1981 with the isolation and cDNA cloning of novel cytokines and growth factors including G-CSF. Tom Boone’s responsibilities grew from Scientist to Director and he developed proprietary processes used to produce recombinant G-CSF and other therapeutic candidates for clinical applications. His continuing success led to leadership of all research protein technologies, and the evolution of Protein Sciences as an independent organization. Tom Boone was the first Vice President of Amgen Protein Science and his teams were responsible for the majority of the current Amgen product portfolio and late stage clinical programs. Tom was the inventor and a lead scientist in the development of Nplate®, a treatment of thrombocytopenia. His critical role in the discovery and process development of G-CSF (Neupogen) is widely recognized. He serves as a consultant or scientific advisor to more than 10 different companies and investment groups.

Contact

Visiting address

Nanna Svartz Väg 2

S-171 65 Solna, Sweden

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If you would like to get in touch with us, please send an e-mail to info@genagon.com