02 May 2017 - PRESS RELEASE
Molecules directed against tumor cells patented
Researchers at the ImmunoSensation cluster of excellence at the University of Bonn have managed to do what many scientists dream of: together with researchers from the USA, they have patented new molecules that allow the immune system to be directed against tumor cells. The license has already given the University of Bonn a first payment – and the scientists also gained a share.
Prof Gunther Hartmann, DZIF Professor Winfried Barchet and Dr Thomas Zillinger, together with scientists from three American universities, identified a new molecule produced naturally in the body that allows a person’s own immune response to be oriented against tumor cells. The immune system is often tricked by tumors, and the new treatment approach counteracts this. If the immune system identifies foreign genetic material (DNA) in a cell, an alarm is triggered and the defenses are immediately prepared for the possible intruder. This cry for help occurs via the signal protein STING. It sets a cascade of defense mechanisms in motion that detect and destroy altered body cells such as tumor cells.
“We have found the molecular key to STING activation,” reports Dr. Winfried Barchet, professor for translational immunology at the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) at University Hospital Bonn and member of the ImmunoSensation cluster of excellence. The discovery concerns a small molecule with a big effect. It allows a new signal path in the immune system to be controlled in a targeted way for the first time. “For us, this is a great scientific success that has led to top-class publications and is also considered one of the most groundbreaking new approaches for cancer immunotherapy,” says Prof. Hartmann, spokesman for the cluster of excellence and director of the Institute for Clinical Chemistry and Clinical Pharmacology at University Hospital Bonn. Thanks to the acquisition of the license by the biotech company, the discovery is now being directly transferred into clinical development and is thus already reaching patients.
For the University of Bonn, PROvendis assumed the exclusive patent exploitation for the company Aduro Biotech based in the USA, which is now further developing the discovery until market maturity. With this patent, among other rights, Aduro Biotech managed to enter into a research and development cooperation with the pharma giant Novartis worth 750 million US dollars.