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Ana Montalban-Arques, co-founder Recolony, Swisspreneur Podcast

EP #379 - Ana Montalban-Arques: Treating Cancer with Bacteria

Ana Montalban-Arques

February 29, 2024

5:20 - Going from researcher to entrepreneur 

8:57 - How bacteria kills cancer

15:14 - Proof of concept in biotech

17:56 - Avenues after a tradesale 

24:13 - Entrepreneurship and motherhood

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About Ana Montalban-Arques:

⁠Ana Montalban-Arques⁠ is co-founder and CEO of ⁠Recolony⁠, a biotech startup developing a bacteria-based oral therapy to treat cancer. She holds a PhD in Medicine from the Medizinische Universität Graz (Austria) and previously worked at hospitals in Spain and Switzerland before starting Recolony in 2022.

In the past few years, scientists have been made aware of the extent to which our gut microbiome influences our health. Considering we’ve been evolving alongside these bacterias for thousands upon thousands of years, it can be safely said that we’ve developed a symbiotic bond: the state of our microbiome influences our immune system and can even cause (or prevent) certain inflammatory diseases.

Recolony’s team took this research one step further when they found a deficiency in a certain type of bacteria in colorectal cancer patients, and hypothesized whether providing patients with the missing bacteria could help treat their disease. Animal tests showed that this specific bacteria can not only prevent tumors but also treat them once they are already in existence, and that it works not only with colorectal cancer but other sorts of cancers as well, regardless of the fact that the bacteria is in the gut and the tumor may be somewhere completely different in the body. This is because the bacteria produces molecules which travel through the bloodstream and activate an immune response to fight the tumors.

Recolony is a spin-off company from the University of Zurich that started as a research project in the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University Hospital Zurich. So far the team has received CHF160K in grant money.

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