CORDIS - EU research results

Diagnosis test for immuno-oncology therapies.

Project description

Optical tweezers are helping scientists conduct T cell job interviews

Cancer immunotherapies work by boosting your body's natural immune response. One of the key steps is binding of T cells to antigens on cancer cells. Novel personalised therapies strive to identify the most effective T cells and recruit them. However, until now, there was no way to directly assess binding. IMMUNOTRAP is about to change that. Their technology exploits Nobel prize-winning optical tweezers, using highly focused laser light to manipulate objects as small as a single atom. The objects experience a force due to transfer of momentum from the scattering of photons. IMMUNOTRAP is harnessing the power of optical tweezers to assess the binding of T cells to their antigens, enabling them to select the best candidates for the job.


Cancers exhibit a large heterogeneity in terms of genetic mutations, so they respond differently to the same drugs. This is why oncology is rapidly drifting towards treatments with new disrupting personalised inmuno-oncology therapies based on adoptive T-cell transfer (ACT). These therapies aim at selecting the most efficient T cells against tumors and transferring them back to the patient. This kind of Immunoassays are generally carried out with endpoint measurements like Surface Plasmon Resonance or Flow Cytometry. However, these techniques do not allow assessing the binding process between the immune and the target cell, which represents a fundamental step of the recognition phase where large efforts against cancer focus.
IMPETUX has developed a solution to address this unmet need. The characterization of this affinity will be achieved through the measurement of the interaction force between them with IMMUNOTRAP: a platform for cell screening based on IMPETUX‘s optical tweezers. This technology uses a highly-focused laser light to mechanically interact with the sample without physical contact. The recent 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to the intellectual father of this technique for his ground-breaking invention in the 1980s. However, it was not until few years ago that forces could start being measured on non-homogeneous samples, such as cells, thanks to the technology developed by IMPETUX.
The IMMUNOTRAP has the potential to become the workhorse in the screening of the best performance receptors for their use in immunotherapies and offers IMPETUX the opportunity to address a high-growth potential market: the pharmaceutical industry and clinical diagnosis. It represents, therefore, a key opportunity to boost the company’s growth. Thus, the objectives of the present innovation project is precisely to confirm the potential of the proposal to create value and to identify the most suitable marketing and commercial routes for a successful market entry.

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Net EU contribution
€ 50 000,00

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The organization defined itself as SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) at the time the Grant Agreement was signed.

Este Cataluña Barcelona
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Total cost
€ 71 429,00