Over 6 million euros investment to Alkemist Bio and cell therapy with engineered T cells

Biotech company Alkemist Bio receives an investment of 6.9 million euros for the development of the first cell therapy with T cell receptors against Alk-positive tumors

Being able to develop the first cellular therapy with T cell receptors (Tcr-T) to fight Alk-positive tumors is the goal of Alkemist Bio. The Italian biotech company from Turin has just received its first investment round of 6.9 million euros. Leading the operation is the venture capital fund Claris Ventures active in the support and creation of biotechnological startups emerging from the Italian scientific ecosystem which was also joined by the venture capital holding Liftt and private investors from the Investors’ Club, Simon fiduciaria (Ersel Group), and Italian angels for growth (Iag).

Strategy: engineered patient immune system

ALKemist Bio develops cellular immunotherapies based on the engineering of cells from the patient’s immune system with T cell receptors (TCR-T cells), training them to recognize and destroy cancer cells that present a specific oncogene. The company, in fact, is developing TCR-T cells that have the ability to specifically target ALK antigens present on ALK-positive tumor cells, focusing mainly on patients with non-small cell lung cancer. By harnessing the power of the immune system and engineering T cells to precisely recognize and fight these cancer cells, the company aims to pave the way for more effective treatments aimed at improving the standard of care.

Innovative therapies are needed against ALK-positive tumors

ALK-positive tumors constitute a subset of aggressive malignancies affecting various organs, including lung cancers, lymphomas, and rare pediatric cancers. This type of malignancy presents significant challenges due to frequent drug resistance. This is why innovative and effective therapies are needed.

The launch of ALKemist Bio represents a critical milestone in our journey towards developing effective and personalized treatments for patients suffering from tumors caused by mutations in the Alk oncogene. With the precious support of our investors, we aim to have a significant impact for patients with an Alk-positive tumor”, declared Roberto Chiarle, scientific founder of ALKemist Bio, Full Professor of Pathological Anatomy at the University of Turin, as well as Director of the Hemolymphatic Pathology Division of the European Institute of Oncology (Ieo) in Milan.

Here's how it works: harvest, edit, grow and infuse

The process begins with the extraction of T cells from the patient’s blood through a procedure called leukapheresis.

Once collected, the T cells are isolated and modified using genetic engineering techniques to introduce a specific T cell receptor (TCR) into these cells: ALK-001. ALK-001 is designed to recognize a particular antigen or protein present on the surface of tumor cells, specific to the patient’s type of cancer. ALKemist Bio, aims to create TCR-T cells that recognize ALK antigens on ALK-positive tumor cells.

After modification, the T cells are grown and multiplied in large numbers, creating a significant population of TCR-T cells that are programmed to target the specific cancer antigen.

At this point, the TCR-T cells are reinfused into the patient: the cells now have the ability to recognize and bind to the specific tumor antigen.