The development from an idea to a marketable product in life sciences is tedious, costly and therefore associated with high risk of failure. With the special funding program, GO-BIO, the German Federal Ministry of Research (BMBF) proposes "a bridge from the laboratory to the market". In maximally two three-year funding periods, the BMBF is supporting "founding research teams" to translate their ideas into product and services and bring them to the market. With generous multi-million funding and strong support in developing business strategy, BMBF wants to increase the number of spin-offs and founded biotech companies.
The GO-Bio competition is highly competitive. The project applications, which are evaluated by a 15 member committee, need to fulfil high standards both from research and business development aspect. In this year's selection process, from 68 project applications 8 winners were chosen. Two of the winner teams come from LMU, and one of them, team NanoCapture, comes from the Department of Pharmacy.
More than 8 million people die from cancer every year. Chemotherapy is still one of the main therapy options. Although powerful cytotoxic drugs are existing, the fundamental problem remains lack of selectivity and targeted drug delivery.
The NanoCapture team consisting of Dr. Petar Marinkovic (project leader), Dr. Oliver Thorn-Seshold (junior group leader at the Chair of Pharmaceutical Chemistry) and Dr. Marina Fütterer (in vivo biologist), aims to significantly increase the efficiency of tumor chemotherapy. The NanoCapture technology uses chemotherapeutic nanoparticles together with so called DLV-molecules. These molecules enable selective passage of nanoparticles through tumor blood vessels, leading to a higher local concentration of those particles within the tumor. The researchers are hoping that this will translate into more efficient therapy and consequently to better survival chances and reduced side effects for patients. With the GO-Bio funding, the team will tackle cancer types like pancreatic and triple negative breast cancer, where chemotherapy is still main option. In the future, the technology can be applied to many other solid cancer types.
The NanoCapture project showed a astonishing development since the start. The idea for the project was born during the 2015 BMBF competition "Innovationsakademie". With the NanoCapture concept, Dr. Thorn-Seshold won the competition which allow the project to enter Sondierungsphase (exploratory phase). During Sondierungsphase and the current Machbarkeitsphase (feasibility phase, since June 2017), the team restructured and evaluated the business and project strategy. Most importantly, the NanoCapture team was able to perform the scientific proof-of-concept studies in a variety of different tumor models. During the upcoming GO-Bio funding (2019-2021), and with additional team members, the plan is to perform all required preclinical studies to reach first human trails. At the end of the funding period it is planned to found the company NanoCapture GmbH.