Rapid and reliable identification of immunogenic peptides for the development of next-generation vaccines, cancer therapy and protein medicines.

Innovative research domain immunopeptidomics: building blocks of our own body as basis for personalised medicine

Several years ago, VITO researchers, together with colleagues at UAntwerpen, recognised the great importance and potential of the still young field of immunopeptidomics. An initial lead was cancer-specific antigens. With the analysis of these small proteins (so-called peptides) in tumours, VITO collaborated on what may evolve into a form of immunotherapy tailored to the patient. Both the characterisation of the peptides and the data analysis have since been refined. But much more data on the identity of those antigens is still needed.

VITO's investments in technology and expertise have led to a unique, cutting-edge methodology that allows researchers to very accurately identify all peptide regions that trigger an immune response. These so-called MAPPS analyses are among the most sophisticated methods for performing immunogenicity tests, which are proving crucial during next-generation medicine development. Important applications include vaccine development, immunotherapy and testing (protein) medicines for unwanted immune responses.

From lab to commercial scale

The highly advanced methodology achieves faster, more accurate, and more reliable research results in the field of immunopeptidomics. Due to the increased market demand for these sophisticated MAPPS analyses and the entrepreneurial spirit of the three VITO founders, the time was ripe to launch a VITO spin-off. After an intensive coaching period from the VITO Tech Transfer Office (TTO), under the leadership of Bart Swaelens, external financing was found with HERAN Partners.

Bart Swaelens, Head of Tech Transfer and Venture Development at VITO: "Three VITO employees deciding to launch a spin-off brings many challenges, but it also says something about the entrepreneurial potential within our organisation. We gave them the opportunities to further refine the method for mass production and to carry out the first orders from VITO. We are pleased that they can now continue on their own."

VITO is a co-shareholder in the spin-off, along with HERAN Partners and the 3 founders.

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