Home  > News  > Noteworthy


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


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


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


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


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


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)


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


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


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 


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


Phase I data strongly support OMEICOS’ novel candidate for treating atrial fibrillation

Ascenion’s portfolio company OMEICOS reported positive Phase I data for its lead candidate OMT-28, a small molecule with strong anti-arrhythmic and cardioprotective potential. The study, which enrolled 75 subjects at two centers in Germany, showed an excellent safety profile with no signals in vital signs or relevant laboratory parameters up to the maximum dose tested, which was 60 mg. Moreover, pharmacokinetic data support a once daily oral treatment schedule.

Based on this positive outcome, the company has accelerated its plans to initiate a phase II trial in atrial fibrillation, the most common cardiac arrhythmia in humans. If successful, OMT-28 could provide a new, highly safe and effective treatment modality for millions of patients.

Further information: See OMEICOS’ press release 

Learn details on the trial (NCT03078738): ClinicalTrials.gov 


Join BioFIT 2018, Europe’s Top Event for Academia-Industry Collaborations in the field of Life Sciences

BioFIT is a partnering event in Europe for technology transfer, academia-industry collaborations and early-stage innovations in the field of Life Sciences with more than 1,200 international delegates from 35+ countries, such as big pharma, emerging and small biotech, diagnostics companies, pre-seed, seed and Series-A investors, as well as professionals from tech transfer, academia and research institutions. 

As a supporter of BioFIT Ascenion cordially invites all its partners to join this partnering event to take place on 4-5 December 2018 in Lille, France.

Further information:

Learn more!
Preliminary agenda


FDA expands use of Shire’s VONVENDI

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extended the scope of Shire’s VONVENDI to include perioperative management of bleeding in adults with von Willebrand disease (VWD). The therapy was first approved in the US in December 2015 for on-demand treatment and control of bleeding episodes. It is the first and only recombinant treatment for adults living with VWD, the most common inherited bleeding disorder.

People with VWD either lack sufficient quantities of von Willebrand factor (VWF) or functional VWF, and they may or may not have a secondary factor VIII (FVIII) deficiency. They all face an increased risk of bleeding during surgery. The expanded approval of VONVENDI allows healthcare professionals to apply the factor individually before, during or after surgery, with or without secondary factor VIII, depending on the patient’s specific needs.

VONVENDI relates to a substance patented by the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine Berlin-Buch (MDC) that arose from the work of Prof. Michael Bader and Dr Diego Walter. The scientists investigated serotonin-modulating agents that could be used for the treatment of bleeding disorders, including VWF. Ascenion, the MDC’s technology transfer partner negotiated the licence agreement with industry.


TechnologieAllianz Annual Conference: Launching start-ups

In April, the members of the rapidly growing TechnologieAllianz e.V. teamed up with founders, investors, scientists and politicians for the 3rd TechnologieAllianz Annual Conference. This year’s exchange focused on the question of how tech and life science startups can better succeed. A total of 200 participants shared their experiences and discussed proposals to support start-ups.

A panel moderated by Dr Christian Stein, CEO of Ascenion and member of the board of the TechnologieAllianz, highlighted a topic that regularly leads to intense discussions in practice: Why, when and to what extent should public institutions or their knowledge and technology transfer (KTT) partners take equity in spin-offs? One of the key findings was that research institutions and universities should use shareholdings in conjunction with licensing agreements in order to participate in the value creation of spin-offs without burdening the capital from investors and startups. It is important to create more transparency, e.g. by defining flexible basic conditions and a clear commitment by the institution.

Throughout the various lectures and discussions, participants agreed that startups have a central and growing importance in transferring academic research into real world applications. Therefore, an important role of the KTT partners is to provide professional support to founders and start-up projects, especially in the run-up phase to start-ups.

Further information: Press Release (only in German)


BioVaria 2018 - 'Startup Pitch and Partner' program

This year’s BioVaria was the event in 2018 for early-stage, life-science European startups to connect with investors, with a record number of company founders and investors participating in the revamped and expanded Startup Pitch and Partner program.

15 startups from across Europe attended BioVaria, 10 of which were pre-selected by a jury of top-tier venture capitalists to pitch, compete for awards, receive dedicated expert mentoring and participate in 1:1 speed dating with investors. The startup pitches were moderated by Dr Nadine Sobotzki, Associate, M Ventures, and Dr Dirk Vocke, Associate Director, Innovation & Entrepreneurship Incubator, Merck KGaA, Germany. Four teams walked away with awards in two categories ‘Emerging’ (pre-private financing) and ‘Rising’ (post-private financing). The jury selected Munich-based OPSYON (Emerging) and London-based LIfT Biosciences (Rising) as winners of cash awards. Both ventures focus on cancer immunotherapy. Using the interactive BioVaria app, the audience also voted for Priavoid (Emerging) and VisionHealth (Rising) as their favourite startup pitches of 2018.

“BioVaria is the best startup event I have had the pleasure to attend,” said Alex Blyth, CEO of LIfT Biosciences. “The balance of startups to investors, biotech and big pharma companies was just perfect.”

If you would like to participate in next year’s event, register to receive updates on BioVaria here: www.biovaria.org


Successful Phase I study of Berlin Cures‘ novel treatment against heart failure

Berlin Cures, one of Ascenion’s portfolio companies, has announced positive Phase I results for its lead candidate BC007 for the treatment of heart failure. 68 subjects were evaluated in the clinical study. The candidate was very well tolerated and a single dose was able to completely and sustainably eliminate autoantibodies targeting the beta-1 adrenoceptor. These autoantibodies are present in the majority of heart failure patients and play a crucial role in the development of the disease.

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.

Berlin Cures plans to start a Phase II clinical study of BC007 in the second quarter of 2018.

Further information: Berlin Cures’ press release