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Noteworthy

Please find below news in brief from Ascenion, its partners and the technology transfer sector:

11.12.2018

Merry Christmas!

We would like to thank all our clients, colleagues and partners in technology transfer, research and industry for the enjoyable and productive collaboration over the past year.

Instead of sending Christmas cards, we have decided to make a donation to the Förderverein Kinderpalliativzentrum München e. V. (www.fvkp.de). This charity supports the work of the Palliative Care Centre for Children in Munich by financing additional services, professional training and innovative research projects.

We wish you all a merry Christmas, peaceful holidays and much happiness and success in 2019!

Your Ascenion Team 

04.12.2018

Fate Therapeutics Secures Exclusive Option to Novel anti-BCMA CAR Constructs for Development of iPSC-derived Cell Products

Agreement with Max Delbrück Center Provides Access to Broad Intellectual Property Portfolio of Unique Humanized Antibody Fragments and Antigen-Binding Domains Targeting BCMA.

Ascenion GmbH, technology transfer partner of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC), has negotiated an agreement between the MDC and Fate Therapeutics, Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the development of programmed cellular immunotherapies for cancer and immune disorders. The company has secured an exclusive option to an intellectual property portfolio owned by the MDC covering novel chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) constructs that specifically bind B-cell Maturation Antigen (BCMA). Under the agreement with MDC, Fate Therapeutics holds an exclusive option to exclusively license the portfolio for all cell products, including CAR NK- and T-cell products, derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).

Further information:
See Fate’s press release

03.12.2018

Ascenion supports spin-off from the University of Innsbruck and the Medical University Innsbruck

Clinicians and scientists from the Medical University Innsbruck (MUI) and the University of Innsbruck have developed an innovative urine test to determine electrolyte balance. The intellectual property rights to the underlying technology have been licensed exclusively to the start-up UriSalt, which will further develop and commercialize the procedure. Ascenion, technology transfer partner of the MUI, negotiated the agreement.

Electrolyte balance is closely linked to a range of vital functions in the human body, including the distribution of fluids. A marked imbalance can be critical, and in certain situations even life-threatening. The new test increases patient safety and relieves pressure on healthcare systems, because it can be carried out any time easily and cheaply by the patient themselves, as well as in doctors’ surgeries, clinics and health centres. Previously, electrolytes could only be determined invasively, from a blood plasma sample. On 3 December, UriSalt received the Austrian start-up prize ‘Phönix 2018’ for its innovative research.

More information

30.11.2018

Apply now for BioVaria Startup Pitch & Partner

Don’t miss your chance to secure a spot at next year’s BioVaria, 8 - 9 May 2019 in Munich! Application for European startups is now open until 1st March 2019. Selected teams and companies will benefit from the two-day Startup Pitch & Partner program designed to promote your business amongst life-science investors and pharma executives and to support the advancement of your company and business idea.

What’s in for you?

  • Pitch your business and compete to win a BioVaria Award worth up to EUR 3,000
  • Receive pre-event feedback from a Startup Jury investor to optimize your on-stage pitch
  • Expand your network and connect with investors during one-to-one Speed Dating
  • Gain expert advice on your business from industry experts during mentoring sessions

The program targets pre- and post-seed stage European startups from all life-science areas.  

Check out our new website to get further information and apply HERE.

02.11.2018

Ascenion’s portfolio company OMEICOS raises EUR 17 million

Following the successful completion of a Phase I trial with its cardioprotective lead candidate OMT-28, OMEICOS has now closed a Series C financing led by new investor Forbion. The existing investors Vesalius Biocapital II S.A. SICAR, Remiges BioPharma Fund, SMS group GmbH, KFW Group, VC Fonds Technologie Berlin, High-Tech Gründerfonds II GmbH & Co. KG and The Falck Revocable Trust participated as well. The company will use the proceeds of EUR 17 million to finance a placebo controlled, double-blinded, randomized Phase II trial on OMT-28 in patients with persistent atrial fibrillation, the most common cardiac arrhythmia in humans. In parallel, OMEICOS will drive the expansion of its pipeline into novel indications including eye diseases. Developments in the field of ophthalmology will be led by the company’s US subsidiary OMEICOS Ophthalmics in Boston, MA.

Further information
See OMEICOS’ press release

01.11.2018

HZI and Ascenion’s portfolio company InSCREENeX receive technology transfer award

This year’s technology transfer award from Braunschweig’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce goes to scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) and its spin-off company InSCREENeX. Together, they have developed technologies for the rapid and cost-efficient production of cell lines with tissue-like characteristics that enable mechanistic studies, drug screening, initial ADME/TOX evaluation and tailored drug development. The approach can be applied to any tissue from any donor and requires only a minimal amount of cells for the starting material. For the biopharmaceutical industry, it provides a powerful tool to speed-up the time- and cost-intensive process of drug discovery, as well as a new and efficient route to research, develop and evaluate personalized medicines.

Ascenion, the HZI’s technology transfer partner, worked closely with the scientists for more than a decade and was instrumental in getting the new company off the ground.

For further information:

See HZI’s press release (available in German language only)
See InSCREENeX’ website

01.10.2018

Ascenion’s portfolio company iThera raises EUR 7 million

iThera Medical, a spin-off from the Helmholtz Zentrum München, has closed series C financing with new investors FLUXUNIT, the corporate venture capital arm of OSRAM, and the Wachstumsfonds Bayern. The current investors BayBG and Extorel co-invested in the round. The company will use the funds of over EUR 7 million to accelerate and expand the clinical development of its breakthrough imaging technology, MSOT (multispectral optoacoustic tomography). The initial focus will be on validating its potential in diagnosing inflammatory bowel disease.

MSOT allows optical contrast to be visualized at depths of several centimetres without harming the tissue. The technology has successfully been commercialized for preclinical and clinical research, with over 75 systems currently operational around the world. Now, iThera plans to bring it directly to the patient. Several collaborative studies with universities and university hospitals suggest that MSOT has strong potential to improve diagnosis in a broad range of diseases, enabling earlier and more precise treatment. Highly encouraging results have recently been published in a number of peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Further information:
See iThera's website

29.09.2018

Innovative cancer immunotherapy BLINCYTO also approved in Japan

Amgen announced that the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has granted marketing approval for BLINCYTO® (blinatumomab) for the treatment of certain forms of B cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).

BLINCYTO is a bispecific antibody that helps the body’s immune system target cells of B cell lineage. It connects B cells expressing the CD19 antigen to T cells via their CD3 receptor inducing them to kill B cells. The technology is based on intellectual property of the Max-Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association. Originally developed by the Munich start-up Micromet, which was subsequently acquired by Amgen, BLINCYTO is the first and only approved immunotherapy from Amgen’s BiTE® platform.

BLINCYTO is also approved for certain ALL indications in the US and Europe.

Further information:
See Amgen's press release

27.09.2018

HKI part of new Cluster of Excellence for research into microbial communities

Ascenion’s partner institute, the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology (Leibniz-HKI), has joined forces with the Friedrich Schiller University Jena and other partners to form a new Cluster of Excellence “Balance of the Microverse”. Its focus is on the study of complex microbial communities that are important in many ways to humans and the environment. Crucial aspects include soil fertility, water quality and the fight against multidrug-resistant microbes.

“The HKI is especially strong in the field of multidrug resistance, and has already produced a number of results that are highly relevant to the fight against multidrug-resistant microbes,” says Dr Sabina Heim, the Technology Manager at Ascenion supporting the HKI. “We are delighted by the launch of this Cluster of Excellence, and the new impulses it will bring to such important areas of research.”

The HKI has made a significant contribution to developing the research concept. Axel Brakhage, professor at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena and Director of the Leibniz-HKI, is Spokesperson for the new Cluster of Excellence.

More information:
Press release of HKI (German language only)

12.09.2018

European Commission approves Shire’s VEYVONDI® in Europe

Shire’s VEYVONDI received EU market authorization for the treatment of bleeding events and the prevention or treatment of surgical bleeding in adults with von Willebrand disease (VWD), the most common inherited bleeding disorder. It affects up to one percent of the global population. The product, which has been approved in the US more than two years ago under the trade name VONVENDI®, is the first and only recombinant treatment for adults living with VWD.

It relates to a substance that was patented by the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine Berlin-Buch (MDC) and licensed to industry by Ascenion, the MDC’s technology transfer partner.

For further information:
See Shire's press release

04.09.2018

Figures and highlights 2017: Ascenion’s Annual Report

In 2017 many exceptional projects from our partners reached important milestones, amongst them potential diagnostics and therapeutics as well as platform technologies e.g. for imaging. We make the successful achievement of these milestones transparent, showing the step-by-step transfer of research results towards application – for the benefit of patients.

A major focus of our work in 2017 was supporting spin-offs. This field will become more prominent in the future, a reason why we dedicate ourselves to establish transparent standards for equity and licence agreements – together with the TechnologieAllianz, investors, governmental departments, founders and other technology transfer organizations.

For our 30 partners we have

  • evaluated 111 invention disclosures and managed 53 patent applications
  • provided extensive support for 18 start-up projects and several technology development projects
  • raised EUR 6.22 million in funding for translational development
  • acquired equity in 2 companies and sold 1 portfolio company/shareholding
  • distributed EUR 1.6 million to the LifeScience Foundation, mostly from the sale of equity
  • negotiated 58 agreements with industry that have generated a total of EUR 8.05 million in revenues for our partners.


In 2017, products, based on contributions from our partners, have generated a total turnover of EUR 1.85 billion, and our portfolio companies employed 325 staff.

Browse through the report! In addition to our figures and infographics, you can also find exciting examples of projects that demonstrate the potential benefit of our partners’ work to society.

Download Ascenion Annual Report 2017

03.09.2018

Ascenion’s portfolio company Cardior strengthens IP position for its lead candidate against heart failure

Ascenion has negotiated a licence agreement between Medical School Hannover (MHH) and its spin-off Cardior Pharmaceuticals providing the company with exclusive and comprehensive rights to its lead candidate against heart failure. The licence further consolidates Cardior’s strong IP position in the field and highlights the candidate’s recent progress. The oligonucleotide-based compound targets certain regulatory microRNAs which play a crucial role in pathological restructuring processes in the heart that occur in about 20% of patients following a heart attack. In-vivo studies have shown that the candidate, by inhibiting the target microRNAs, not only stops the fatal restructuring of the heart, but actually reverses it. This could represent a breakthrough for millions of patients.

Based on these results, the company is now accelerating the preparation of clinical trials. Last year, Cardior closed a EUR 15 million financing round, providing the resources for its ambitious development plans.

Further information:
Website Cardior Pharmaceuticals


03.09.2018

Ascenion negotiates option and licence agreement on nanoparticles co-developed by HZDR and University of Münster

Ascenion, the knowledge and technology transfer partner of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), has negotiated an agreement with Roche Diagnostics (F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd), providing the company with an option to receive exclusive rights to use proprietary nanoparticles for in-vitro diagnostic applications. The particles were generated at first at the University of Münster, then functionalized and characterized in a collaborative effort by HZDR and researchers of the University of Münster.

With sizes in the low nanometer range, they show small-molecule-like pharmacokinetics in in-vivo model systems. This, together with their biocompatibility and surface functionalization, opens up a broad range of further applications in nanomedicine, including clinical research, in-vivo diagnosis and the treatment of diseases.

Ascenion has been working with the inventors of both institutions, University of Münster and HZDR, for several years supporting the patent application and commercialization of their approach.

For further information:
Website HZDR 


29.08.2018

Innovative cancer immunotherapy BLINCYTO also approved for children in the EU

The European Commission has granted approval for Amgen’s BLINCYTO® (blinatumomab) for the treatment of pediatric patients with certain forms of B cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).

So far, children with relapsed or refractory ALL had limited treatment options beyond chemotherapy. The approval provides them with a new immunotherapy option that helps activate their body’s immune system against cancer. The market authorization is based on a Phase I/II Study evaluating the safety and efficacy of BLINCYTO in nearly 100 pediatric patients.

Further information:
See Amgen's press release

22.08.2018

Ascenion’s portfolio company Berlin Cures announces successful completion of Phase 1 study of BC 007 for the treatment of cardiomyopathy

Drug developer Berlin Cures announced the successful completion of its Phase 1 study of its lead candidate BC 007 for the treatment of cardiomyopathy. BC 007 is a DNA-based aptamer compound that binds to and eliminates functional pathogenic autoantibodies targeting the beta-1 adrenoceptor. Even a moderate dose was able to eliminate the autoantibodies which are present in the majority of heart failure patients. BC 007 continues to show an excellent safety profile without any serious adverse events or any signs of allergic reactions of the 74 treated individuals. This outcome provides an optimistic outlook for the upcoming Phase 2 trial.

The results confirm the potential of Berlin Cures’ innovative therapeutic concept, which represents the first causal treatment approach to heart failure. The specific elimination of autoantibodies could provide a compelling alternative to expensive and stressful dialysis or cardiac assist devices.

Further information:
Berlin Cures’ press release