Because Recolony’s bacterial cancer therapy is based solely on commensal bacteria, it could be the first effective cancer treatment without detrimental side effects. A cancer treatment that can be administered orally and has no side effects could significantly decrease healthcare costs and improve the quality of life of millions of cancer patients.

Project Description

Recolony is focusing on the development of a bacteria-based therapy for colorectal cancer that consists primarily of selected bacteria of the gut microbiota. These bacteria have an enormous impact on the immune system and are able to provoke and enhance an immune reaction to fight cancer. The bacteria will be orally administered in gastro-resistant capsules with colonic release. With this approach, Recolony aims to develop a new class of drugs for the treatment and prevention of cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the third most prevalent cancer and the second leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide. In advanced stages, 5-year survival rates are below 15%. While current immunotherapies have been shown to be effective in certain cancers, they usually fail in patients with advanced colorectal cancer, with a response rate of only 3-6%.

Recent technological advances in biomedical research have contributed to characterizing the human microbiome and offer the potential to monitor, prevent, or even cure human disease through specific microbiota interventions. Targeted modifications of the gut microbiota have few or no side effects and the potential to dramatically improve therapeutic outcomes as well as the quality of life of cancer patients under treatment. The Recolony team identified specific strains of bacteria that are less abundant in individuals with colorectal cancer compared with people who do not have that type of cancer. In pre-clinical experiments, it was found that supplementation with those bacteria was sufficient to trigger an anti-tumor immune response in colorectal cancer as well as in melanoma, breast cancer, and lung cancer. The results showed enhanced immune cell activation and infiltration into the tumor when the bacteria were orally administered. By translating this approach into the clinic, Recolony aims to circumvent the problem of current immunotherapies, which are unable to treat tumors with low immune cell infiltration effectively.

The Recolony team aims to develop a live biotherapeutic product based on proprietary bacterial strains and to conduct a Phase I clinical trial targeting colorectal cancer. The team plans to produce the bacteria in lyophilized form, packed in pH-resistant capsules, and to obtain regulatory approval for a first-in-human trial. Recolony’s goal is to shift the paradigm of cancer treatment away from single-target drugs towards a gut microbiota-guided activation of the immune system.


Ana Montalban-Arques
Project Leader

Portrait Ana Montalban

Faculty Mentor

Michael Scharl

Portrait Recolonymentor scharl 410

Partners and Funding

Project Partners:

  • University Hospital Zurich
  • Pharmabiotic Research Institute
  • Sandwalk Bioventures

Funding Partners:

  • UZH Entrepreneur Fellowship
  • SNSF and InnoSuisse BRIDGE programme
  • USZ Health Innovation Hub
  • Venture Kick


Ranked 79th in the TOP 100 Swiss Startups 2023

VentureKick stage III support

Recolony wins CHF 150k in the third and final stage of the VentureKick program. Read more.

Winner of the InnoBooster program

Recolony will receive CHF 150’000 to accelerate further development, being one of the winner projects of InnoBooster. Read more.

Recolony AG Incorporation

The UZH spin-off Recolony is incorporated.

Selected for the Venture Leaders Biotech 2022

Recolony gets the chance to participate in the Venture Leaders Biotech 2022. Read more.

Finalist at >>venture>> startup competition

Recolongy is a finalist in the category Health & Nutrition at the >>venture>> startup competition. Read more.

Wyss Zurich admission

Recolony is accepted as full project at Wyss Zurich.

USZ Health Innovation Hub support for Recolony

Recolony receives financial support from the USZ Health Innovation Hub. Read more.

Falling Walls Foundation Award

Falling Walls Foundation awards Recolony with the Breakthrough of the Year in the Emerging Talents Category. Read more.

Core Team

Portrait Ana Montalban

Ana Montalban-Arques

Project Leader

Portrait Philipp Busenhart

Philipp Busenhart

Head of Business Development

Portrait Egle Katkeviciute

Egle Katkeviciute

Head of R&D

Do you have a breakthrough project you want us to know about?

We invite you to contact the Wyss Zurich office to discuss your project and start the evaluation process.