Therapeutic Areas

IBSA and Choose Life Biotech, together towards new pioneering therapeutic solutions

IBSA’s know-how together with the expertise of Luca Varani, Laboratory Director at the Research Institute in Biomedicine (IRB, Istituto di Ricerca in Biomedicina) and of manager Vincenzo Martino to develop new research projects in innovative and state-of-the-art fields. This is the goal of the newly founded start-up Choose Life Biotech (CLB), an independent Swiss biotechnology company specialising in the preclinical development of drugs created through molecular engineering.

CLB, in partnership with IBSA, will focus on a biomedical research field that is currently in great expansion: immunotherapy, a therapeutic approach aimed at activating and strengthening the immune system by driving it to attack specific targets (for example, in the oncology field, cancer cells).

Giuseppe Mautone, Head of R&D Scientific Affairs IBSA


Antibodies are the future of pharmacology in oncology and in chronic and infectious diseases, with important benefits for the patient, such as the absence or reduction of undesirable effects, thanks to their targeted specificity”, stated Giuseppe Mautone, Head of R&D Scientific Affairs at IBSA. And, added Tiziano Fossati, Head of R&D Pharmaceutical at IBSA: Immunotherapies are growing exponentially, with an increasing number of products on the market for the treatment of conditions which currently have few therapeutic options available. Over the next few decades, the partnership with Choose Life Biotech will extend IBSA’s research and development activities towards these new areas, characterised by a great therapeutic interest.

Tiziano Fossati, Head of R&D Pharmaceutical IBSA


The new therapeutic and diagnostic applications in the field of immunotherapy will be possible thanks to the line of studies on nano-antibodies: these antibodies are similar to the “classic” ones, used by our immune system to block viruses and bacteria, but of a much smaller size and with a simpler, more agile and robust structure. This type of antibodies is not naturally present in the human body, and for this reason they are studied and “built” in the laboratory, to make them compatible with the immune system which, otherwise, would reject them as foreign bodies.

This is where CLB’s experience and leading scientific background comes into play; indeed, in the future the company – thanks to advanced genetic engineering techniques (antibody engineering) –will create in its Bellinzona laboratories up to 10 billion different types of nano-antibodies, thus creating a huge database. Depending on the needs, researchers will then be able to choose, within this gigantic archive, the nano-antibodies that will appear most suitable for fighting certain diseases.

Luca Varani and Vincenzo Martino

CLB was founded by Luca Varani – together with manager Vincenzo Martino, President of the company – with the aim of exploiting the long and fruitful experience gained in the field of proteins and recombinant antibodies. Currently, the work of the Swiss start-up stops at the preclinical part, but thanks to the alliance with IBSA it will be possible to open up to new phases and trials, progressing in the field of personalised medicine.

Having worked in Cambridge and Stanford, I have witnessed the birth of many successful start-ups”, commented Luca Varani, Founder of CLB and Group Leader of IRB. I am extremely happy and grateful for the opportunity to create something similar in Bellinzona too. I am convinced that the collaboration with a great company such as IBSA will allow us to implement significant and innovative approaches to the development of new drugs.

That of proteins and recombinant antibodies is a field of study and research where much remains to be discovered, and therefore it has a great potential, that can actually change the treatment prospects of several diseases for many patients around the world.