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enable immunotherapies by disrupting the tumour microenvironment

through venture.

The development of effective cancer therapies has been historically challenging due to, among other factors, the heterogeneity and genetic instability of cancer cells. An attractive alternative is the development of therapeutic strategies that target the microenvironment – cellular and acellular host components that surround cancer cells and contribute to tumour progression. Among these, immunotherapies have shown particular promise, with incredible results in blood-based cancers.

However, results in solid tumour have been less impressive, with a significant rates of non responders and limited responses – often only 10-20% vs. existing therapies. This discrepancy is linked to the adoption of multiple immunosuppressive strategies by the solid tumour microenvironment. Strategies that include not only cancer derived immunomodulatory signals and the recruitment of immunosuppressive cells, but also the existence of physical barriers associated with the deposition of a dense and highly crosslinked extracellular matrix. The matrix components prevent the effective infiltration of cancer reactive immune cells, leading to immunologically “cold” or immune-excluded tumours.

approaches we’re considering

Most R&D efforts in the immunotherapy space continue focusing on finding new targets for the triggering of anti-cancer immune responses. But how can these lead to widespread success in solid tumours where the immune cells can’t reach their target? Can we instead develop a systems-based approach targeting multiple components of the tumour microenvironment to facilitate a more effective immune response?

The current golden age of synthetic biology provides us with all the required tools for the development of a more dynamic approach that takes into account the complexity of the system at hand. At DSV we are currently considering cell based strategies which leverage the synbio toolkit to modify the physical properties of solid tumours and improve immunotherapeutic outcomes. The project is at an early stage and we are looking for people with a background in the field to join the founding team and help us put these ideas into practice.

our offer

Your role will start as a Founder within DSV under our unique framework for venture creation. It’s a full time role working across market analysis, science and customer development together with the DSV team before incorporating your own start-up within 6 months (give or take a couple of months) with pre-seed investment from DSV.

We already have a number of exciting projects being developed in this space and expect to make first investments into newly formed startups and founding teams by the end of the year. 

Our partnership with Cancer Research UK means that your work will also be supported by the world’s largest independent funder of cancer research. Further information about the DSV-CRUK partnership here.

No prior idea or IP required.

who should apply

We are looking for scientists with an entrepreneurial drive and the ability to challenge established paradigms. You should be a creative thinker, a team worker, have excellent communication skills and a commitment to making a contribution to the clinical landscape of cancer.

We are specifically looking for a strong technological background in:

• synthetic biology and genetic modification in eukaryotic or bacterial systems

• genetic circuit engineering and Boolean logic gates

•  promoter elements and kill switches

• experience in cancer biology and/or immunology desirable

The development of effective cancer therapies has been historically challenging due to, among other factors, the heterogeneity and genetic instability of cancer cells. An attractive alternative is the development of therapeutic strategies that target the microenvironment – cellular and acellular host components that surround cancer cells and contribute to tumour progression. Among these, immunotherapies have shown particular promise, with incredible results in blood-based cancers.

However, results in solid tumour have been less impressive, with a significant rates of non responders and limited responses – often only 10-20% vs. existing therapies. This discrepancy is linked to the adoption of multiple immunosuppressive strategies by the solid tumour microenvironment. Strategies that include not only cancer derived immunomodulatory signals and the recruitment of immunosuppressive cells, but also the existence of physical barriers associated with the deposition of a dense and highly crosslinked extracellular matrix. The matrix components prevent the effective infiltration of cancer reactive immune cells, leading to immunologically “cold” or immune-excluded tumours.

approaches we’re considering

Most R&D efforts in the immunotherapy space continue focusing on finding new targets for the triggering of anti-cancer immune responses. But how can these lead to widespread success in solid tumours where the immune cells can’t reach their target? Can we instead develop a systems-based approach targeting multiple components of the tumour microenvironment to facilitate a more effective immune response?

The current golden age of synthetic biology provides us with all the required tools for the development of a more dynamic approach that takes into account the complexity of the system at hand. At DSV we are currently considering cell based strategies which leverage the synbio toolkit to modify the physical properties of solid tumours and improve immunotherapeutic outcomes. The project is at an early stage and we are looking for people with a background in the field to join the founding team and help us put these ideas into practice.

our offer

Your role will start as a Founder within DSV under our unique framework for venture creation. It’s a full time role working across market analysis, science and customer development together with the DSV team before incorporating your own start-up within 6 months (give or take a couple of months) with pre-seed investment from DSV.

We already have a number of exciting projects being developed in this space and expect to make first investments into newly formed startups and founding teams by the end of the year. 

Our partnership with Cancer Research UK means that your work will also be supported by the world’s largest independent funder of cancer research. Further information about the DSV-CRUK partnership here.

No prior idea or IP required.

who should apply

We are looking for scientists with an entrepreneurial drive and the ability to challenge established paradigms. You should be a creative thinker, a team worker, have excellent communication skills and a commitment to making a contribution to the clinical landscape of cancer.

We are specifically looking for a strong technological background in:

• synthetic biology and genetic modification in eukaryotic or bacterial systems

• genetic circuit engineering and Boolean logic gates

•  promoter elements and kill switches

• experience in cancer biology and/or immunology desirable

Interviews ongoing

Places are allocated as soon as the right fit is found.

Interviews ongoing

Places are allocated as soon as the right fit is found.

current founders

Pedro has an academic background in cell biology and oncology research, and is working on building new therapeutic strategies in the solid tumour microenvironment. He is passionate about making a difference in the targeting of solid tumours by improving the effectiveness of immunotherapies. To learn more about Pedro’s work, you can e-mail him here.

Pedro has an academic background in cell biology and oncology research, and is working on building new therapeutic strategies in the solid tumour microenvironment. He is passionate about making a difference in the targeting of solid tumours by improving the effectiveness of immunotherapies. To learn more about Pedro’s work, you can e-mail him here.