Cancer researcher listed as Super Talent

16 May 2019

Sara Mangsbo founded a company in 2014 based on research about immunotherapies to combat cancer.

Cancer researcher Sara Mangsbo has been named one of the most prominent individuals among Sweden’s 101 Super Talents listed by the Swedish magazine, Veckans Affärer. She conducts research on immunotherapies to combat cancer and is also an entrepreneur, who has both started and sold companies.

For the twelfth year Veckans Affärer has named 101 Super Talents, and Sara Mangsbo occupies first place among the entrepreneurs on the list.

“It feels overwhelming and inspiring. I consider it an opportunity to highlight both what we do at the university and what can come out of it.”
She is a researcher at the Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences. Based on research about immunotherapies to combat cancer, she founded the Immuneed company in 2014 along with her manager at the time, Thomas Tötterman, and doctoral student Erika Fletcher.

Company with two activities

The company started with two activities, a service for evaluating pharmaceutical candidates and a vaccine project for treating prostate cancer. Last year the vaccine company was sold to Ultimovacs, a Norwegian pharmaceutical company. Sara Mangsbo is continuing her work with the vaccine project, and the service company now has a strong focus on evaluating unexpected responses to biopharmaceuticals before they reach people.

She currently serves as chief development officer at the spin-off company and on the board of the original company. She also heads a 10-member research team at Uppsala University. The team currently is working on an immuno-oncology project, which she hopes can become a new therapy that can enter clinical trials.

“It is a project on SciLifeLab’s platform for ‘Drug Discovery and Development’ that I run along with Helena Persson, who heads the platform involving antibody development. The project has been going on for 2.5 years, and we hope it can lead to introducing a product on the market.”

The road towards entrepreneurship

The road to becoming an entrepreneur began seven years ago. Mangsbo wanted to add a new dimension to research with entrepreneurship and received help along the way.
“Early in my time as a researcher, I received a mentor through the Mentor4Research programme operated by the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences at the time. Then Uppsala Bio gave me a chance to receive coaching and funding from the BioX innovation programme of Vinnova, Sweden’s innovation agency. So I have received a lot of help through various innovation initiatives from the university’s partners.
Why have you stayed at the university and continued to combine research and entrepreneurship?
“For me, it has been an insight that has come as time passed. I gain so many ideas and such creativity here at the university and also have the opportunity to drive companies forward. It’s hard to find a better workplace for doing just that.”