Dr Nuno Viegas
Innovation & Business Idea
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the fourth leading cause of mortality among cancer patients in the world and second in EU and US, and thus represents a huge burden on healthcare systems. Resistance to conventional anticancer therapies in patients with advanced solid tumors has prompted the need of alternative cancer therapies. The success of novel cancer therapies depends on their selectivity for cancer cells with limited toxicity to normal tissues. Evolution has provided bacteria with unique strategies to invade a host organism, making them ‘perfect’ Trojan horses against cancer. Live, attenuated or genetically modified non-pathogenic bacterial species are capable of multiplying selectively in tumors and inhibiting their growth. To date, the use of bacteria in cancer patients has resulted in experimental success, with reduced tumor volume, increased survival and treatment of metastatic disease. The most evident success case is the approved treatment of bladder cancer using Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG). Nevertheless, insufficient colonization of tumors by conventional attenuated bacteria appears to be the major obstacle identified in clinical trials, a problem that was not evident in animal models. To overcome this challenge, we have developed a new conditional attenuated bacterial vector that retains its wild type profile, but that becomes attenuated in the absence of a specific sugar. Consequently, our proprietary bacterial vector can be remotely controlled in order to achieve the best tumor colonization without sacrificing patient’s safety. The ability to remotely control tumor colonization will contribute for the overall success of the therapy and is one of the advantages of our conditional attenuated mutant over other attenuated bacterial vectors currently being developed by other groups.
Using our conditional attenuated mutant, we have achieved a considerable tumor size reduction in mice, using a colorectal cancer model. Moreover, the treatment of additional cancer models with our bacterial vector revealed promising results.
Five-year relative survival rates for CRC vary worldwide. In the United States survival rate is 65%, in Europe survival rates range from 38.8% to 59.9%, Japan 61.1%. By 2023, CRC sales are expected to rise to $8.11 billion in the 8 major markets, at a moderate Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 4.9%.
There is currently still space in a market that is mainly dominated by adjuvants and EGFR inhibitors. Most of these therapies target specific EGF receptors in cancer and are inefficient if the tumor does not express the correct target receptor or therapies are associated with reactogenicity (e.g. adjuvants).
The CRC market is expected to grow due to the incorporation of late-stage pipeline agents during the forecast period (until 2023), including Eli Lilly’s Cyramza, and Boehringer Ingelheim’s nintedanib as well as the label extension of Stivarga as a first-line adjuvant treatment for metastatic CRC patients with resected liver metastases.
We believe to be developing a best in class therapy against cancer that has potential to conquer a considerable part of the market.
Intellectual Property Status
Mantis has exclusive licenses to all the relevant IP related to our product.
Development Status & Future Steps
Proof of concept in small animals was achieved with several tumor models. Next steps and milestones can be personally discussed in detail.
After Phase I/II
The team has profound expertise in R&D, business development and vaccine development in small and large pharma. New members of the team are currently being recruited.