Breaking interactions in oncology
Montis’ mission is to therapeutically exploit cellular interactions between perivascular macrophages and tumor vasculature to drive and sustain immune reactions against solid tumors.
Montis was founded based on the foundational science from the laboratories of Prof. Peter Carmeliet and Massimiliano Mazzone (VIB-KU Leuven), and is backed by an international syndicate of investors.
The immune suppressive tumor microenvironment drives tumor growth, therapy resistance & metastasis but is complex and multi-factorial. This calls for novel therapeutic strategies that target the tumor stroma from a different angle.
As such, high macrophage infiltration often correlates with immune suppression and macrophage targets are considered the next frontier in immuno-oncology. Perivascular macrophages (PVMs), a subclass of macrophages, are often overlooked in this context. Nonetheless, these PVMs cuff the vasculature and thereby sustain both immune suppression and dysfunction of the tumor vasculature.
The latter is a hallmark of cancer that is underappreciated in current therapies, but by hampering proper immune cell infiltration and tumor oxygenation, vascular dysfunction actively contributes to the malignant immunosuppressive microenvironment in tumors.
Historical therapies targeting the tumor vasculature largely ignored this role and instead destroyed the vessels to starve the tumor. Our research now shows that rather than destroying the blood vessels, we can use them to herd the correct immune cells to the tumor and get more potent and sustainable effects.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the interaction of endothelial cells (the inner cells lining the blood vessels) with PVMs shapes this multi-factorial immune suppressive response and that targeting this interaction can restore this environment.
Our approach with single cell RNA sequencing data finally allowed us to investigate the communication between PVMs & tumor endothelial cells and using our unique target screening platform, we discovered novel targets to translate this concept into a first-in-class therapeutic pipeline.
Dr. Carmeliet started his own research group in 1992, focusing on the role of blood vessels in health and disease.
Since 2009, he has pioneered new research to therapeutically exploit the aberrant vasculature in disease. His recent single cell RNA-sequencing studies characterized the transcriptome of tumor endothelial cells and was the foundational science for Montis to uncover the immune related functions of endothelial cells in concert with perivascular macrophages.
Dr. Carmeliet is head of the Laboratory of Angiogenesis & Vascular Metabolism, Professor of Medicine and Honorary Director at the VIB-KULeuven Center for Cancer Biology and was the recipient of various awards, including the Francqui Prize in Biological and Medical Sciences (2002), the Ernst Jung Prize in Medicine (2010) and the Heineken Prize for Medicine (2018). In 2015 King Filip of Belgium granted him the Noble title of ‘Baron’.
Since October 2009, Dr. Mazzone is heading the Lab of Tumor Inflammation and Angiogenesis at the VIB-KULeuven Center for Cancer Biology. Since 2017, he is Full Professor at the University of Leuven and throughout his career he received multiple national & international awards and recognitions (the Belgian Royal Academy Prize, Giulia Colletta Award, EMBO awards, Chiara D’Onofrio Award, AstraZeneca Award, Burgen Award,ERC grants, etc.).
His research team is focusing on the response of inflammatory cells to hypoxic and metabolic conditions, to ultimately restore both the vasculature and a favourable immune response in pathological conditions such as cancer.
His work on perivascular macrophages laid the basis for Montis Biosciences to study the interaction between tumor endothelial cells and macrophages.
Board of directors
Executive chairman, Droia
LS Polaris Innovation Fund
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News & Publications
August 22nd 2019
Bieniasz-Krzywiec P, Martín-Pérez R, Ehling M, Kroes R, Aldeni C, García-Caballero M, Prenen H, Noel A, Smeets A, Floris G, Van Ginderachter JA, and Mazzone M. Podoplanin-expressing macrophages are required for lymphangiogenesis and lymphatic metastasis in breast cancer. Cell Metabolism, 30 (5):917-947 (2019).
Januari 13th 2020
J. Goveia*, K. Rohlenova*, F. Taverna*, L.Treps*, L.-C. Conradi, A. Pircher, V Geldhof, L. de Rooij, J. Kalucka, et al., Y. Luo & P. Carmeliet. An integrated gene expression landscape profiling approach to identify lung tumor endothelial cell heterogeneity and angiogenic candidates. Cancer Cell 37: 21-36 e13 (2020).