Federal Ministry of Research funds the development of antibody therapies against pancreatic cancer

Joint press release by DKFZ and Panosome GmbH.

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding the DKFZ spin-off Panosome GmbH with almost two million euros for the development of an antibody therapy against pancreatic cancer. On this occasion, State Secretary Jens Brandenburg will visit the young biotech company on May 21st.

Panosome GmbH, a biotech company founded in 2020 in Heidelberg, specializes in the development of monoclonal antibodies for various medical purposes. The basis for this is the VAST technology platform, developed jointly by Panosome and DKFZ.

Panosome intends to use the VAST technology to develop antibodies for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. The Federal Ministry of Research is supporting this project as part of its funding initiative "KMU-innovativ: Biomedizin" with a total of 1.99 million euros. Panosome will receive a total of 1.55 million euros in funding, while DKFZ will receive 446 thousand euros.

Dr. Jens Brandenburg, Parliamentary State Secretary for Education and Research, emphasizes the importance of supporting startups: "Medical biotechnology is evolving incredibly quickly, enabling new treatment approaches. This is particularly needed in the fight against pancreatic cancer, as this disease is often diagnosed at a late stage and current treatment approaches are often not successful. Therefore, it is a special concern for us at the Federal Ministry of Research to support small and medium-sized enterprises that advance technology transfer in biotechnology for drug development. This ensures that research findings can quickly benefit those affected. Panosome's new treatment approaches are precisely tailored to the individual needs of patients. This is a great opportunity to positively impact the lives of many people."

"The BMBF funding is an important milestone for our company," says Prof. Dr. Nina Papavasiliou, Managing Director of Panosome GmbH. "We now have the opportunity to use our technology for the benefit of cancer patients."

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Michael Baumann, Chairman of the DKFZ, says: "The SME grant to Panosome is a great confirmation of our strategy. Spin-offs have proven to be particularly successful in transferring research into application." Ursula Weyrich, Commercial Director of DKFZ, adds: "DKFZ encourages, supports, and accompanies scientists who want to commercialize their research results as entrepreneurs."

The BMBF-funded project CarboVAST now targets the tumor marker MUC-1, which is overexpressed in 90 percent of all malignant pancreatic tumors. Pancreatic cancer is an increasingly common, highly aggressive cancer that often cannot be stopped with today's available therapies.

The VAST technology uses African trypanosomes, single-celled parasites known as the causative agents of sleeping sickness. The surface of trypanosomes is covered with millions of identical proteins, called VSG ("variant surface glycoproteins"), which stimulate the immune system to produce large amounts of neutralizing antibodies.

The highly immunogenic densely packed VSGs are an excellent carrier to induce antibodies against almost any molecule. To do this, Panosome researchers use killed trypanosomes, which are densely covered with VSGs just like the intact pathogen. Using an enzymatic process, the desired antigen – in this case, an epitope of MUC-1 – is coupled to the "tips" of the VSGs. After vaccination, large amounts of neutralizing antibodies are produced against the coupled antigen.

The isolated antibodies, which recognize MUC-1 on the surface of pancreatic cancer cells, will then be tested at DKFZ in various combination therapies against pancreatic cancer. This will include testing combinations with innovative immunotherapeutic approaches developed at DKFZ. Part of the funding will therefore go to DKFZ.

Not only pancreatic cancer overexpresses MUC-1, but also numerous other solid tumors, such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and lung cancer. A success of CarboVAST could therefore also benefit patients with other types of cancer.

The goal of the BMBF funding initiative "KMU-innovativ: Biomedizin" is to meet the interdisciplinary requirements of drug development and the necessary technologies by exchanging knowledge between companies and science, strengthening and expanding this exchange. This aims to sustainably strengthen the innovation capabilities of the German medium-sized sector in the field of biomedical cutting-edge research and to expand competencies to harness the potential of biomedical innovations for the benefit of society and the economy.

About the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ):

The German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) is the largest biomedical research institution in Germany, with more than 3,000 employees. Scientists at DKFZ research how cancer develops, identify cancer risk factors, and search for new strategies to prevent people from getting cancer. They develop new methods for more precise tumor diagnosis and more successful cancer treatment. The DKFZ Cancer Information Service (KID) provides affected individuals, interested parties, and professionals with individual answers to all questions about cancer.

To translate promising approaches from cancer research into clinical practice and thus improve patients' chances, DKFZ operates translational centers together with excellent university hospitals and research institutions throughout Germany:

National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT, 6 locations) German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research (DKTK, 8 locations) Hopp Children's Tumor Center (KiTZ) Heidelberg Helmholtz Institute for Translational Oncology (HI-TRON) Mainz – a Helmholtz Institute of DKFZ DKFZ-Hector Cancer Institute at the University Medical Center Mannheim National Cancer Prevention Center (in cooperation with the German Cancer Aid) DKFZ is 90 percent funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and 10 percent by the state of Baden-Württemberg and is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers.

This Website uses Cookies

We store technically necessary cookies, without which the operation of the site is not possible. In order to provide you with a better user experience on our website, we would also like to evaluate anonymous analysis data. Which tools we use for this purpose and further information can be found in our Privacy Policy and in our Legal Notice.

Accept technically required cookies only

On our website you will find interesting videos and maps hosted on YouTube/Google Maps. The videos and maps are used without a cookie, but data is still loaded from google servers, which means that your surfing behaviour can be recorded by Google.

Name Google Analytics
Anbieter Google LLC
Zweck Cookie von Goolge für Website-Analysen, mit dem statistische und anonymisierte Daten darüber erfasst werden, wie der Besucher die Website nutzt.
Cookie Name _ga,_gat,_gid
Cookie Laufzeit 14 Monate