The biotech company Cantargia at Medicon Village in Lund focuses on treating pancreas- and lung cancer by targeting the tumour inflammation, as a complement to traditional therapies.
”A single therapy will never solve this problem.” The words are from Göran Forsberg, CEO of the biotech company Cantargia. ”One must remember that cancer is a collective term for over 200 diseases, where each patient, in principle, has his or her own unique disease,” he further explains and adds: ”Hence, what you need is a toolbox wherewith you can tailor the treatments to the needs of each individual patient.”
Several compounds in combination are therefore needed to create an effective treatment and Göran Forsberg compares the operations with a military assault where you need airborne attacks, as well as artillery and troops on the ground to be successful.
”We focus on the tumour inflammation. It’s a part of the disease which is not treated with targeted therapies today. We thereby enter the battlefield from a new flank as it were. The therapy is unique in that it combines activation of the immune system with blocking of signals that promote tumour growth.”
Upcoming studies in patients
In the last ten years, antibody-based therapies have emerged. They hit the tumour more directly than chemotherapy and are now a proven and verified, low-risk, technology that is utilised by Cantargia.
”Our lead candidate CAN04 is an antibody that specifically targets the molecule IL1RAP (Interleukin-1 receptor accessory protein) with the potential to treat a number of different cancers. Initially, we focus on non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and pancreatic cancer. In the initial toxicity study no signs of toxicity have been detected and in the first half of 2017 we’ll initiate clinical trials in patients with these diseases. On the back of the results in this study, we will then also initiate studies in patients with leukemia.”
Cantargia is a virtual company and does not have own labs. Instead Cantargia collaborates with academic groups as well as specialized commercial labs thereby getting access to their expertise and latest technologies. An example being antitumor effects which are studied in so called PDX models based on human tumour tissue specific for the studied indications. Another example is engineered cell lines used for production of antibodies with optimized features.
The company also has another project in its pipeline. It focuses on inflammatory diseases and is in an early phase. ”The plan is to select a product candidate by the end of 2018 or beginning of 2019,” Göran Forsberg comments. This means that Cantargia with a strong focus on the platform has created two independent legs to stand on.