Current generic therapeutic options for bladder cancer are only effective in a third of the patients and induce severe side effects, indicating the need for more specific and comprehensive treatments. Antibody-drug conjugates that specifically bind to (metastatic) bladder cancers can address this need. The challenge is to find antibodies that bind the majority of bladder tumors and not any normal tissues.
NanoYounique’s concept is a reverse of the classical approach: we first generate billions of small antibodies (nanobodies) against tumors, then select the nanobodies that only bind cancers and not normal tissues, and lastly identify the target. This method will not only detect the dysregulated and mutated protein targets, but also cancer-associated protein misfolding and modifications such as glycosylation. Our novel technology results in a huge proprietary database with the binding characteristics of millions of nanobodies to many normal and cancer tissues. Using artificial intelligence, we selected dozens of bladder cancer-associated nanobodies that are currently being validated for their cancer-specificity. A panel of bladder cancer-specific nanobodies allows for combined or sequential imaging and therapeutics to cover a large span of patients and limit single drug-acquired resistance.
So far, our technology has been validated in a prostate cancer cell line panel and an in vivo xenograft model system for its high specificity. One of our selected top prostate cancer nanobodies turned out to bind PSMA, a well know and effective imaging and therapy target. After successful human tissue and animal validation of our panel of candidate bladder cancer nanobodies, we will first perform nanobody-conjugated radionuclide PET imaging to show the power in a human setting.
Our nanoYounique team of oncological molecular biologists, a urogenital clinician and a business developer is based at the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam. We are supported by renown experts from the research and clinical departments of Urology, Pathology, Medical Oncology, Nuclear Radiology and Pharmacy in the Erasmus MC. Together we will bring the selected nanobodies into a Phase-1 first-in-man trial to show the imaging potential in metastatic bladder cancer. Within these 3-4 years, our pipeline and database will also be expanded to select nanobodies against the top five cancers. After this start-up phase, new investments will be pursued to deploy bladder cancer radio-therapeutical strategies and to move the other cancer-specific nanobodies into clinical testing tracks.
NanoYounique pursuits investments of 3.5 M€ for the trajectory towards in vivo and clinical phase-1 validation of the candidate bladder cancer nanobodies. Using the unique proprietary database, nanoYounique creates value on several business-to-business levels; (1) via sale or out-licensing individual or panels of cancer-specific nanobodies, (2) access-fee to the nanoYounique database and (3) fee-for-service for nanobody selections using the extensive cancer nanobody library.
- Guido Jenster
- Chris Bangma
- Martin van Royen
- Venture Challenge Fall 2020