Tumor microenvironment, including tumor-associated macrophages, plays a key role in controlling tumor progression and response to therapies. It stimulates tumor growth, supports angiogenesis and tissue remodeling, as well as neutralizes host immunity. Genenta Science is using this mechanism, which is certainly a promising area of cancer biology for the identification of new therapeutic targets.
In less than five months since its foundation, Genenta Science raised €6.2M. The funding campaign was backed by Banca Esperia, the private bank of Mediobanca, and Mediolanum. The entrance of new shareholders allows Genenta Science to complete the pre-clinical studies and to advance in the preparation of the clinical phase for its therapeutic protocols to treat tumors.
Genenta Science technology involves the use of interferons; proteins that are usually produced by the body in response to infections that also exhibit a powerful anti-tumor activity. However, the clinical use of interferon as a drug has been limited due to its high toxicity.
Genenta Science’s innovative therapy uses a combination of transcriptional and microRNA‐mediated control, so tumor-infiltrating monocytes/macrophages become capable of selectively expressing interferon limited to the tumor area, reducing its toxicity. The gene, that will target interferon‐α expression, is delivered into the hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) by genetically disabled Lentivirus.
Luigi Naldini, Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of Genenta Science: “We have spent several years researching novel strategies to treat tumors and now Genenta Science aims to rapidly translate our laboratory results into clinical trials, paying most attention to scientific rigorousness and patient safety. Our first clinical targets will be hematopoietic malignancies for which the current therapies are unsatisfactory.“
Italian Biotech network is not well-known, but it has some competitive advantages: solid scientific tradition, long‐term investments, primary research institutes, competitive scientists, and, now, a solid track record in startup. Only in the last year and an half, Italian biotech startups have generated value for more than $10BN: EOS, Okairos, Intercept, Gentium and Nogra Pharma.
If demonstrated to be safe and effective in humans, the Genenta Science’s approach could also be combined with other therapies, to create a synergy in stimulating powerful immune responses against established tumors, which may lead the company to join the other successful Italian startups.