€300,000 for Leiden startup Imuno from UNIIQ
Proof-of-concept fund UNIIQ, together with LEH (Libertatis Ergo Holding), is investing a total of €300,000 in the Leiden startup Imuno, which is developing a new immunotherapy against cancer tumors. Imuno targets tumor types for which few effective drugs are currently available. Immunotherapy, unlike chemotherapy, does not target cancer cells directly, but rather stimulates the immune system to clear the cancer. Leiden’s Imuno is identifying new ‘targets’, which occur only on tumors, and act as recognition points for antibodies. With better- and more targets, immunotherapies become more effective. The investment will be used for further development of their model, identification of antigens, team expansion and strengthening of the IP position, among other things.
Imuno is an early-stage startup dedicated to developing novel immunotherapy drugs for cancer. In doing so, Imuno focuses on the discovery of new targets for immunotherapy in patients with solid tumors, for which few effective drugs are available. One of the problems with cancer treatment is a lack of good “targets,” so to speak, the recognition points for the drugs. Imuno wants to change this by adding additional targets to the treatment repertoire.
Technology from Imuno enables specific therapies.
Imuno focuses on a particular type of target called neo-epitopes. These targets only occur on tumors, making it possible to achieve specific therapies. The technology of Imuno makes it possible to identify neo-epitopes. As a result, specific antibodies can be developed against them.
Machine learning to develop better antibodies.
Imuno uses machine learning to map the structure of potential neo-epitopes. This is used to determine whether they are suitable to make antibodies against. Imuno uses the machine learning model to determine the 3D structure based on the genetic code of potential targets, and then assess how suitable the targets are to develop antibodies against. However, the technology is also applicable for the development of new cell therapies and anti-cancer vaccines.
Imuno works closely with several academic hospitals. They also have strong ties with Ocello and VitroScan. Through the latter companies, developed antibodies can quickly be tested in (preclinical) practice. The team consists of a young and ambitious CEO (Jan-Jaap Verhoef) with experience in immuno-oncology, a highly experienced CSO (Mark Throsby) and a successful biotech serial entrepreneur (Leo Price). In addition, the team is surrounded by several scientific advisors.
The investment will be used for further model development, antigen identification, antibody development and validation, team expansion, animal studies, and strengthening of the IP position.
Jan-Jaap Verhoef, CEO Imuno: “Imuno is very pleased with UNIIQ’s confidence in the proposition. The investment allows us to further validate our technology, and to further develop the intellectual property.”
Hans Dreijklufft, fund manager at UNIIQ said, “Investing in innovative new medications for patients is an important goal for UNIIQ. We are therefore very excited about the opportunities that Imuno can offer and are proud to be able to contribute to the next steps that the company will take in the coming period. In addition, we are pleased to see that the collaborations within the Leiden ecosystem are of added value to Imuno”, says Hans Dreijklufft, Fund Manager of UNIIQ.
Rob Mayfield, LEH: “We are very pleased that Imuno has chosen to develop this startup in Leiden, with the support of UNIIQ and LEH. We are convinced that Imuno’s technology can make a contribution in the field of cancer treatment, and we look forward to supporting Imuno in the further development and validation of the technology.”
This text has been translated from uniiq.nl/