Atley Solutions opens new doors in the fight against cancer - Chalmers Ventures
Atley Solutions Chalmers Ventures

Atley Solutions opens new doors in the fight against cancer

Imagine a medicine, like a homing missile, that finds cancer cells and destroys them – without harming healthy cells and tissues around them. The treatment exists, but the ability to test and manufacture the drugs does not. This is where Atley Solutions’ world-unique technology comes in.

”The goal is to help more people survive cancer,” says Milton Lönnroth, CEO.

It’s all about astatine, one of the earth’s rarest elements, and how this radioactive material can pave the way for a new type of cancer medicine. Research on how astatine can be utilized to combat metastatic cancer has been ongoing for a long time, and there are good reasons behind the efforts. The goal is to create effective and gentle drugs that target cancerous cells specifically, without harming the rest.

”Medications with astatine can be described as internal radiation therapy. This is called targeted alpha therapy and involves the radiation source being inside the body, instead of having to be administered externally. The benefits are many. You avoid having to radiate through healthy tissue because the radioactive molecules in the drug find the cancer tumors and radiate locally. This means an effective and gentle treatment with few side effects,” say Emma Aneheim and Sture Lindegren, researchers and co-founders of Atley Solutions.

Despite the promising possibilities, the development of targeted drugs has not yet been able to take off. Since astatine is too rare to be extracted from the earth’s crust, the substance must be manufactured in particle accelerators, and there are too few relevant accelerators available today. Another difficulty is that the drug is not active for very long, as astatine has a short half-life.

Atley Solutions Chalmers Ventures

Enabling drug development

These challenges are precisely what Atley Solutions, a startup company, is focusing on. They have created the world’s first automated production module for manufacturing drugs with astatine. The module makes it possible to systematize the process and conduct larger clinical trials of investigational drugs – thereby paving the way for new treatment methods.

”We make the development of these drugs possible. Our goal is to contribute to the creation of better treatment options for a variety of cancer types,” says Sture Lindegren.

The fact that the drugs target metastatic cancer – which is particularly difficult to treat – and can reduce the number of patients who need to undergo harsh chemotherapy treatments is particularly hopeful, the team points out.

”Because these drugs can be administered early on, the chance of reducing the number of recurrences and actually curing the disease increases, instead of just alleviating it. It feels good to be able to contribute to this,” says Emma Aneheim.


Great interest from the start

Atley Solutions has come a long way since the first prototype was developed in 2013. The unique production module garnered early interest, and the researchers attracted several stakeholders. But managing everything from licenses and patents to development processes and commercialization as busy researchers is no easy task, and it wasn’t until the researchers connected with Chalmers Ventures that things really started to take off. Soon after, they were introduced to the entrepreneur and biochemistry engineer Milton Lönnroth, who was captivated by the possibilities of the production module. In 2019, Atley Solutions was founded with Milton as CEO and subsequently became one of Chalmers Ventures’ portfolio companies.

Today, the company has built up an international network with the biggest players in the field and has also received numerous awards and prizes along the way. The company’s list of achievements includes winning the Almi Pitch 2020, and the same year, the company received awards in the categories Impact Maker, Game Changer, and Beyond Academic in the Venture Cup competition.

”It’s exciting to see how much has happened with the company, especially in the past year. Now we have started generating revenue and are being contacted by large pharmaceutical and biotech companies. One of the world’s largest cancer hospitals has also reached out to gain access to our technology,” says Milton Lönnroth.

Right timing and huge potential

Atley Solutions is in the final stages of getting the production module certified for sale in Europe and the USA, and at the same time, collaboration with pharmaceutical companies interested in conducting clinical trials continues. Within five to seven years, the team believes that the first drugs with astatine could be on the market.

”A shift is truly happening. We see more and more companies investing in the field, and the infrastructure for conducting clinical trials is beginning to fall into place – and Atley Solutions is a part of that development. The future potential is enormous: once a pharmaceutical company succeeds in bringing a drug to market, the need for our technology will be global,” says Milton Lönnroth.

Moving from research to commercialization has been a tough challenge at times, and the team emphasizes that support from Chalmers Ventures has been crucial for the company’s development.

”Chalmers Ventures saw the potential and connected us. In addition to financial support, we have greatly benefited from the knowledge exchange with other portfolio companies,” says the team, adding:

”The driving force behind what we do is that it should benefit the patients. We hope that our technology will make it possible for these drugs to become an important part of the future of cancer treatment.”

Text: Ulrika Ernström


Facts about Atley Solutions
Atley Solutions is based on research from the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.

The Atley Team

  • Milton Lönnroth, Co-founder, and CEO
  • Emma Aneheim, Co-founder, Senior Radiochemist, and Board Member
  • Sture Lindegren, Co-founder, and Board Deputy
  • Björn Eriksson, CTO
  • Ellinor Hansson, Radiochemist
  • Christian Rensch, Senior Engineer
  • Albin Forslund, Production and Service Technician
  • Johan Olsson, Software Product Owner
  • Chiara Timperanza, Radiochemist