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Proof-of-Concept of a nanobody targeting Osteopontin to inhibit colorectal cancer development

Project description

A nanobody-based treatment against colorectal cancer

Emerging evidence indicates that osteopontin – a bone matrix protein – plays a key role in colorectal cancer (CRC) and in particular in clonal expansion and cancer stem cell functionality. Therefore, the EU-funded POCON project proposes to target osteopontin using a nanobody, an engineered single-domain antibody that blocks osteopontin function. Researchers will validate the efficacy of the approach in mouse models of the disease and set up industrial collaborators to produce the therapeutic molecule. Given that CRC accounts for nearly 10 % of all human cancers and there are no new therapies, the POCON nanobody will pave the way for an improved clinical outcome of CRC patients.


In this ERC Proof-of-Concept project, we aim to demonstrate the technical and commercial feasibility of a nanobody to target Osteopontin (OPN) for (co)treatment of colorectal cancer (CRC). This proposed project builds further upon recent findings as part of the ERC CRCStemCellDynamics project, in which we showed that OPN plays an important role in clonal expansion and cancer stem cell functionality.

CRC accounts for ~10% of all cancers worldwide and forms a heavy financial burden for the EU healthcare system. The 5-year survival rate for patients with CRC is < 60% and for metastatic CRC (mCRC) patients even < 20%. Over the last 15 years, treatment options for CRC have been static and new therapies for CRC are urgently needed.

Findings from our lab indicates that a nanobody to block OPN would be an attractive approach for CRC (co)treatment. In this project we will 1) generate a therapeutic nanobody together with key experts in the field, 2) demonstrate efficacy of the nanobody in human CRC xenograft models, 3) compile a “data package” to attract partners for further financing towards commercialisation, 4) establish a solid business plan, including intellectual property (IP) protection, a market/competitor analysis and an exploitation plan, and 5) set up collaborations with pharmaceutical partners for (co)development and/or a licensing deal.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 149 953,75
1105AZ Amsterdam

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West-Nederland Noord-Holland Groot-Amsterdam
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 149 953,75

Beneficiaries (1)