Asgard Therapeutics will develop cancer therapies which use reprogrammed human skin cells to improve the immune system’s capacity to identify cancerous particles.

Lund University formally spun out Sweden-based immuno-oncology company called Asgard Therapeutics on Friday to engineer cells which could bolster the patient’s defences against cancer.

Asgard will develop immuno-oncological therapies that administer so-called dendritic cells, which are used by the immune system to dissect dangerous particles so killer white blood cells known as T-cells can recognise them as threats that must be destroyed.

The approach, named TrojanDC, builds on findings from preclinical studies on mice indicating that a formulation of three essential proteins, PU.1, IRF8 and BATF3, could be used to repurpose human skin cells as dendritic cells.

A fresh supply of dendritic cells may counteract cancer’s ability to impair the function of existing dendritic bodies and make it easier for the immune system to identify tumours which evade detection by mutating multiple times.

Asgard also hopes reprogramming skin cells collected from each individual patient will reduce the risk of them being rejected by the patient’s immune system.

The company may eventually explore reprogramming other dendritic cell subtypes to exploit additional therapeutic capabilities.

Asgard’s founding research was led by Filipe Pereira, who manages a team focused on cell reprogramming in immunity and haematopoiesis in the Department of Laboratory Medicine.