Febraury 28, 2012
The Bayerische Patentallianz GmbH, the central patent and marketing agency for 28 Bavarian universities and universities of applied sciences, has licensed a number of inventions from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich (LMU) to ethris GmbH, an up-and-coming biotechnology company. The inventions provide a basis for the development of innovative nucleic acid pharmaceuticals and for magnetic field-driven active substance transport.
Nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) are chemical substances that are responsible for storing genetic information and for translating this information into proteins, the building blocks of life. Many disorders, such as genetic and metabolic diseases, can be traced back to a mutation in a particular DNA segment. This also causes a change in the “assembly instructions” for proteins, so that their function may be altered. Nucleic acids which are introduced into a patient’s bodily tissues represent a highly promising treatment approach. While many drugs have so far been aimed at hindering the function of existing and malfunctioning proteins, nucleic acids intervene in the process at an earlier stage, enabling them to form so-called therapeutic proteins, i.e. ones with intact function. ethris is now driving forward the development of the licensed inventions, devised by the Experimental Gene Therapy research group at the LMU’s hospital, into an innovative nucleic acid therapy with the aim of providing the basis for new medicines and new forms of active substance transport.
An mRNA agent called SNIM® RNA represents one mainstay of this nucleic acid therapy. This messenger RNA causes therapeutic proteins to be built from the correct “assembly instructions” during protein biosynthesis. Targeted chemical alterations to this mRNA (which is responsible for the conversion of genetic information into proteins) mean that, unlike natural mRNA, it has no immunogenic effect when it is sprayed into the lungs as an aerosol or injected into muscle. No unwanted immune reactions are therefore produced in the body, and the agent can be administered more than once. This mRNA is also more stable and thus produces the therapeutic proteins for longer periods, even at a low dose. SNIM® RNA is undergoing further development specifically for use in regenerative medicine. The future aim is to devise bioactive surfaces in the form of coated implants or bone replacement materials that will aid healing. SNIM® RNA could, however, also be used to treat genetic and metabolic disorders in the future.
With Magnetovax®, ethris is also developing a technology for the targeted transport of nucleic acid agents. These will be embedded into transport vehicles equipped with nanomagnetic particles. A magnetic field can then be used with precision to hold the nucleic acids in place once they reach their destination and start to exert their biological effects. A considerable dosage reduction can be achieved using this method. The on-target local effect also ensures that no healthy tissue is damaged. An enormous variety of DNA tumor vaccines can be locally administered using this magnetic field-driven nucleic acid therapy. In an initial step, ethris is aiming to obtain an approval for veterinary medicines to treat skin tumors in cats (feline fibrosarcoma). Uses in humans are also being developed.
“The advantage of the ethris nucleic acid therapy is that the agents introduced into the body are activated via the patients themselves. Moreover, our approach has huge diversification potential. For example, a variety of diseases could be treated in the future through specific modifications of the nucleic acid building blocks,” according to PD Dr. Carsten Rudolph, CEO of ethris GmbH.
ethris develops innovative medicines based on its own patent-protected platform technologies with a huge diversification potential, enabling new therapies to be developed for diseases with previously limited treatment options. Magnetovax® is a platform for personalized tumor vaccines, with local, tumor-specific activation by means of magnetic fields. SNIM®RNA is a first-in-class biopharmaceutical platform for new treatments of rare disorders, for replacing recombinant proteins and as “transcript therapy” in regenerative medicine. ethris “enabling therapies” provide access to highly profitable markets. ethris was established in late-2009 by PD Dr. Carsten Rudolph and Prof. Christian Plank, who are also the company’s CEOs. In the same year, the two scientists from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Technische Universität München were able to bring Dr. Walter Schmidt (CEO, Affiris AG, Vienna) on board as a Business Angel. The investment fund QureInvest II, run by the company HS Lifesciences GmbH, has been involved in ethris GmbH since the end of 2011. Based on its unique worldwide expertise, ethris has set itself the aim of fast-tracking new therapies into the clinical testing stage.
Bayerische Patentallianz GmbH
As the central patent and marketing agency for 28 Bavarian universities and universities of applied sciences, the Bayerische Patentallianz GmbH markets the inventions of more than 18,000 scientists. Thereby, it supports the researchers in protecting their inventions and then facilitates its commercial use. We provide industry with a unique access to the largest technology pool in Bavaria. Thanks to the internationally renowned research quality of the Bavarian universities, Bayerische Patentallianz GmbH owns a high quality range of marketable innovations and patents in life sciences and physical sciences.
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