Alentis Therapeutics’ 2.5M CHF Swiss Accelerator Project

Alentis Therapeutics is a Swiss biotech company on a mission to treat cancer and reverse fibrosis by targeting claudin-1, a key tight junction protein overexpressed in fibrosis and many cancers. In 2023, Alentis was awarded 2.5M CHF from Innosuisse’s Swiss Accelerator programme for their project, CanEx, to develop ALE.C04, a first-in-class clinical candidate for the treatment of claudin-1 positive tumours. Catalyze is proud to have supported Alentis’ successful application to Swiss Accelerator. We heard from Dr. Markus Meyer, Chief Operating Officer, about the award and collaboration with Catalyze.

CanEx forms the basis of Alentis Therapeutics’ Phase 1/2 study

Alentis develops first-in-class anti-Claudin-1 (CLDN1) antibodies for the treatment of CLDN1-positive (CLDN1+) tumours and organ fibrosis. They currently have two clinical-stage candidates, targeting CLDN1+ tumours (ALE.C04) and kidney, liver and lung fibrosis (ALE.F02) and anti-CLDN1 antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) undergoing IND-enabling studies. In their Swiss Accelerator project, CanEx, Alentis conducts a Phase 1/2 clinical trial to develop its proprietary, first-in-class monoclonal antibody, ALE.C04, to treat head and neck cancer (HNC) patients and potentially improve the efficacy of immune checkpoint inhibitors (CPIs).

About 900,000 people are diagnosed with squamous HNCs globally each year with a median survival rate of just 6-15 months following diagnosis. While the introduction of CPIs over the past 10 years has improved survival in advanced cancers like HNC, only 15-20% of HNC patients respond to ICIs. In preclinical models, ALE.C04 has been shown to revert the physical barrier formed by upregulated CLDN1 overexpression, which prevents T-cells and other drugs such as CPIs from accessing and attacking the tumour.

Markus explains the importance of their funding: “This funding finances our first-in-human trial with our new and innovative medicine, ALE.C04, to treat cancer patients, in this case HNC patients. It was important kick-off funding for the entire study.

“We are currently treating patients at centers across North America, Singapore and Europe,  and are planning to treat Swiss patients too. This is something we made clear in our application, as Innosuisse needs to see how the value of our grant comes back to Switzerland, where Alentis Therapeutics is headquartered.”

Markus Meyer Alentis

Pictured: Markus Meyer, COO, Alentis Therapeutics

Working with Catalyze towards the Swiss Accelerator success

Swiss Accelerator is a highly competitive programme with a challenging 3-step application procedure consisting of a short application, followed by an invitation to submit a full application, and finally a pitch of your application to Innosuisse. Catalyze provided support to Alentis throughout the Swiss Accelerator process.

Markus describes his experience of the collaboration:

“I think first of all, we wouldn’t have made the deadline without them. We received around 40 questions, that often required long answers. It was a lot of work, but the Catalyze team kept us on track and helped us throughout the process. They also handled some challenges around the submission deadline and, based on their experience, provided valuable strategic guidance  on how to answer questions relating to our strategies.”

Following the invitation to present CanEx to the Innosuisse jury, Alentis and Catalyze worked to refine and strengthen their project pitch.

Markus recalls, “After our invitation, we were able to practice our pitch with different people at Catalyze to see how it resonated, which was a big help. It was a true Alentis-Catalyze team effort. Alentis was working on the scientific and disease background and Catalyze helped us with the business slides and conducting an epidemiological assessment to strengthen our case.”



Catalyze is proud to have supported Alentis in their success in the Swiss Accelerator programme.

Learn more about Alentis Therapeutics here: 

Learn more about Swiss Accelerator


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