Science, Please: hope against cancer from gene research

“We were born from a competitive and structured environment like San Raffaele which is one of the co-founders of Genenta. A hospital that has a great tradition in the fight against rare genetic diseases in children: we started from that experience towards something unfortunately not rare like tumors”. This is how Pierluigi Paracchi tells Science, Please about the birth in 2014 of Genenta, the company he founded together with Prof. Luigi Naldini, professor of cell biology and gene and cell therapy and director of the San Raffaele Telethon Institute for therapy gene of Milan. A research that essentially developed into a drug, Temferon, whose functioning is summarized by Paracchi as follows: “We use a monocyte together with interferon alpha, preventing it from causing toxicity on other organs. All this thanks to a viral vector discovered by Prof. Naldini who changed the history of gene therapy”. The drug is still in an experimental phase and it will still take years before it is put on the market. “We have demonstrated at a preclinical level that this cellular platform works against some types of tumors” – continues Paracchi – “We decided to start against a very aggressive brain tumor such as glioblastoma multiforme for which there is currently no cure.”

The only Italians on the Nasdaq

“When we were born as a startup in July 2014, we needed to have capital to bring the therapy from the counter to the patient, so we turned to large Italian and international entrepreneurs” as Paracchi tells the other story linked to Genenta: the listing on Nasdaq, unique among the Italian companies currently present on the most important tech market in the world. “We went there to have more capital and trained investors. The difference between Italians and the United States is that in America they know how to better evaluate companies like ours.” But how are the issues of health, finance and ethics reconciled? “Capitalism has all its defects but also some advantages but with the pandemic, having a muscular pharmaceutical industry allowed us to find a solution immediately” replies the CEO of Genenta “if you wake up the animal spirit of the entrepreneur, you perhaps allow him to accumulate wealth, but then the impact is global”.

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