According to the online publication, Our World in Data statistics, in 2017 cancer was the second leading cause of deaths globally (9.56M), second only to cardiovascular diseases (17.79M). Given the four years that have passed since then and ignoring the threat that is Covid-19, little has changed regarding numbers. This is despite the modern treatments for cancer management that include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation treatment, endocrine therapy, and immunotherapy, as “resistance to classical chemotherapeutic agents and/or novel targeted drugs continues to be a major problem in cancer therapies”, attested by researchers in the scientific paper Drug resistance and combating drug resistance in cancer (2019) by Xuan Wang et al.
However, in the same year as those statistics were issued, a deep tech startup was formed that may just have an answer to some of these, so far at least, intractable medical dilemmas.
TOLREMO Therapeutics, a Swiss biotechnology company that was spun out of ETH Zurich, has come up with a broad cancer drug resistance platform that provides a unique entry point into a major clinical problem.
Our vision is to make cancer a minor matter by developing resistance-preventing combination therapies
— TOLREMO Therapeutics
Founded by Emmanuel Savioz, Isaac Kobrin, Karl-Heinz Altmann, Stefanie Flückiger-Mangual, and Wilhelm Krek, TOLREMO Therapeutics’ headquarters are located in Muttenz, not far from the city of Basel, a European biotech hub and home to several multinational pharma companies.
The team’s pioneering work into “non-mutational drug resistance to deliver a new wave of resistance-preventing precision therapies to patients with cancer” has been made possible by its discovery engine targeting non-mutational drug resistance which, in the final analysis, can provide far superior response rates, extended survival and, most importantly, a much better quality of life.
Helping the startup in its quest is the CHF16.1 million ($17.56M) in funding over three rounds. TOLREMO’s latest funding, a Series A round led by BioMedPartners AG and Altos Venture AG, brought an additional CHF4.7 million to the startup’s kitty in June of 2020.
On the funding, Dr. Stefanie Flückiger-Mangual, CEO, Co-Founder of TOLREMO and a woman shortlisted for the EU Prize for Women Innovators 2020, said:
“We are delighted about the strong commitment and continuous financial support from our strong shareholder base. Drug resistance in cancer continues to be a major hurdle in achieving long-term patient benefit. The additional funds bring us one step closer to delivering a new wave of resistance-preventing precision therapies to patients with cancer.”
As the startup’s Co-Founder and leader, Flückiger-Mangual expertise in the field of drug resistance in cancer therapy is crucial. Prior co-founding TOLREMO, Flückiger-Mangual was a Post-doctoral Researcher at ETH Zürich
She obtained a Ph.D. in Molecular and Translational Biomedicine, with a focus on small molecule inhibitor-induced drug tolerance states in human melanoma, from ETH Zürich. There, Flückiger-Mangual led a team of scientists who discovered novel molecular mechanisms that can be exploited to prevent the development of resistance to cancer therapies.
The future’s looking bright for TOLREMO, and as a Swiss Technology Award 2020 Finalist and voted Switzerland’s 4th best Biotech Startup in the same year, all opportunities are open.