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High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) invests in Reutlingen-based SIGNATOPE GmbH – Safe medications thanks to new test procedures

High-Tech Gründerfonds is investing EUR 600,000 in Reutlingen-based SIGNATOPE GmbH. SIGNATOPE will use the funds to advance the development of its unique biomarker assay system, that has been established to support pharmaceutical research. The technology is based on special antibodies and allows the early detection of possible side effects during the drug development process. Thereby, the need for animal testing will be reduced while the drug becomes safer and the process more cost-efficient. SIGNATOPE has already secured a number of renowned companies as clients of the new technique.

Before new drugs get approval they are subjected to comprehensive tests in cell culture and animal models to assess their efficacy and toxicity. The biomarker assays developed by SIGNATOPE are able to detect organ damage and drug side effects. As biomarkers might differ between humans and animal models, to date a multitude of tests have been applied for this analysis. During phase I of the GO-Bio program, which is being funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the team at the NMI Natural and Medical Sciences Institute at the University of Tübingen developed a novel technique, which quantifies relevant biomarkers not only in humans but also across a wide variety of species. “Our technique delivers quantitatively comparable data, regardless of the selected test model. We are able to detect even the tiniest amount of biomarkers in urine and blood samples. This helps to cut down significantly on time and costs with respect to drug development,” explains Oliver Pötz, CEO at SIGNATOPE.

As a major German seed stage investor, HTGF sees huge potential in the new approach devised by the Reutlingen researchers. “The team really impressed us with this pioneering technology. In comparison to traditional histopathological techniques involving tissue sections, non-invasive biomarker assays are becoming increasingly relevant in the development of new drugs,” explains Dr. Lena Krzyzak, Investment Manager at HTGF.

SIGNATOPE was founded by scientists Hannes Planatscher, Thomas Joos, Octa-vian Schatz and Oliver Pötz, together with the NMI. “As a business-minded incubator, the NMI is the nucleus behind many successful start-ups,” explains Dr. Klaus Eichenberg, Managing Director of BioRegio STERN Management GmbH. “It is a good example of how to fuse innovative research with successful business in the region.”

Glossary

  • Antibodies are blood proteins (immunoglobulins) which are produced by the B lymphocytes in response to disease. They recognise foreign substances that have entered the body (e.g. bacteria) and help the body fight against a particular disease and develop an immunity to that disease.
  • Being lytic is the feature of a bacteriophage leading to the destruction (lysis) of the host cell upon infection.
  • Selection in a biological context means the assortment of organisms due to their characteristics. On the one hand, this could be natural selection ("survival of the fittest") like in evolutionary processes. On the other hand, selection by man, e.g. breeding, is called artificial selection. Artificial selection is also used in genetic engineering to identify a genetically modified organism due to its new characteristics (e.g. resistance to antibiotics).
  • Biochemistry is the study of the chemical processes in living organisms. Therefore it touches the studies of chemistry and biology as well as physiology.
  • The toxicity is the poisonousness of a substance.
  • Pathology is a section in medicine which deals with the reasons, the development and the consequences of pathological symptoms as well as of abnormalities.
  • Polyehylene (abbrevation: PE) is the polymer of ethylene. It belongs to the thermoplastic synthetics.
  • The transforming growth factor (TGF) belongs to the so-called cytokines, which serve as signal molecules in cell communication. TGFs play an important role in growth and differentiation of many cells and tissues.

About SIGNATOPE:

SIGNATOPE GmbH was founded in August 2016 in Reutlingen by Thomas Joos, Hannes Planatscher, Oliver Pötz and Octavian Schatz, together with the NMI Natural and Medical Sciences Institute at the University of Tübingen. SIGNATOPE devel-ops innovative protein assays that are capable of detecting and quantifying biomarkers for organ damage and drug interactions in blood, urine and tissue. In addition, SIGNATOPE offers analytical services for clients in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries. The company’s CEO is biochemist Dr. Oliver Pötz.

Website address: https://www.gesundheitsindustrie-bw.de/en/article/press-release/high-tech-gruenderfonds-htgf-invests-in-reutlingen-based-signatope-gmbh-safe-medications-thanks-to-new-test-procedures/