Peptides exist in all organisms, wherever there are cells. The range of their physiological functions is huge. Biologically active peptides can act as hormones, neurotransmitters, growth factors as well as toxins and antibiotics. This is what makes them highly interesting drug leads. They are used for the treatment of autoimmune diseases, cancer and other diseases. Despite some drawbacks, peptides are gaining in importance as candidates for drugs and fuelling interest in research into natural and synthetic peptides.
Apogenix a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel protein therapeutics for the treatment of cancer and inflammatory diseases announced that its lead product Apocept APG101 has been selected by Elsevier Business Intelligence and Windhover Conferences as one of oncologys Top 10 Projects To Watch.
Phenex Pharmaceuticals AG Phenex today announced it has entered into an agreement with Janssen Biotech Inc. and its affiliates Janssen to jointly discover compounds that target the nuclear hormone receptor RORT and may have utility in the treatment of chronic autoimmune and inflammatory disorders including rheumatoid arthritis psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease.
rent-a-lab has been offering services to detect and determine the quantity of biomolecules for around ten years. The company is mainly focused on studies related to the binding of biomolecules to GTP-binding protein-coupled receptors, a field that has attracted a great deal of attention following the award of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2012 for the identification of this important class of receptors.
HOT Screen GmbH from Reutlingen Germany develops human organotypical HOT cell culture models related to the human immune system for the assessment of drug activity profiles and the selection of suitable drug candidates. The sophisticated models are made with differentiated cells and can be adapted to a broad range of different diseases - including rheumatoid arthritis osteoarthritis Crohns disease neurodermatitis COPD asthma and many others.
The therapeutic use of peptides lags behind that of proteins. And there are good reasons for this. However, it seems that this is beginning to change and that peptide therapeutics are growing in significance. As a matter of fact, peptides have become rather popular candidates for drugs.
Herbal medicines have a long tradition in Germany. In an interview with Dr. Ariane Pott from BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg GmbH, Professor Dr. Michael Wink, Director of the Institute of Pharmacy and Molecular Biotechnology at the University of Heidelberg, highlighted that plants produce compounds that are effective against microorganisms and that can also be put to good use in the treatment of human diseases.
The biopharmaceutical company Apogenix GmbH announced today that the phase II clinical proof of concept trial with APG101 as treatment of recurrent glioblastoma has met and exceeded expectations in the final analysis of the data. In this randomized controlled clinical study the patients were treated either with a combination of APG101 plus radiotherapy (APG101+RT group) or radiotherapy alone (RT group). The primary objective of the trial was to increase the percentage of patients reaching progression free survival for six months (PFS6) by >100 percent.
immatics biotechnologies GmbH announced that it has completed patient recruitment into the pivotal phase 3 trial evaluating its lead cancer vaccine IMA901 for renal cell carcinoma RCC. The first interim overall survival results are expected during the first half of 2014.
Liver damage is one of the most common adverse drug effects. Since results obtained with animal experiments can only be transferred to the situation in humans to a limited extent, there is a need for cell-based systems that model human organ function as closely as possible. The new HepaChip, developed by researchers at the NMI in Reutlingen on the basis of human liver and endothelial cells is able to do just this.
Many tumor cells have a defective cellular equipment. It is only by a special trick that they manage to distribute their chromosomes correctly to their daughter cells during cell division. Scientists of the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) have now developed a substance that thwarts this trick and forces cancer cells into death during cell division. The group has now reported their results in the journal Cancer Research.
Insilico Biotechnology and its partners have started a joint large-scale research project to study how reactive oxygen species trigger ageing processes on the cell and tissue level and how to prevent these if possible. Biomarkers will be used to expose the processes and molecular target structures will be identified which can be targeted with active agents to delay ageing.
Phytopharmaceuticals are herbal medicines whose efficacy is down to one or several plant substances or active ingredients. They have been used for treating diseases since time immemorial. This traditional knowledge is still the basis for many medicinal products made from plants or parts thereof. Herbal medicines have been produced in Baden-Württemberg for many generations.
A remedy is now available for people suffering from dry eye disease. Novaliq GmbH, a specialty pharmaceuticals company from Heidelberg, has developed a highly innovative technology platform for producing innovative drugs to eliminate common eye conditions that cause itching, burning and a feeling of pressure on the eye. The new drug delivery platform not only opens up groundbreaking new prospects for ophthalmology, but also for dermatology.
At its 3rd International Research & Development (R&D) press conference, Boehringer Ingelheim gave journalists insights into its R&D pipeline. Around 200 scientists at the company’s site in Biberach are investigating new treatment options for patients with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma, idiopathic lung fibrosis, lung cancer and other respiratory diseases. In addition, the researchers are also focusing on the R&D of compounds for the treatment of cardiometabolic and neurological disorders.
Scientists from the research groups of Prof. Dr. Susana Andrade and Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle, members of the Institute of Organic Chemistry and BIOSS Centre for Biological Signalling Studies, Cluster of Excellence of the University of Freiburg, have collected the first precise data ever on the function of a transport protein for formate – an important metabolite in bacteria. The findings could potentially lead to the development of new antibiotic active ingredients, as the research team reports in the scientific journal PNAS.
Malaria can be treated with atovaquone a drug that inhibits a particular enzyme in Plasmodia. However the parasites are becoming increasingly resistant to the drug. Carola Hunte and Dominic Birth from the Institute for Biochemistry at the University of Freiburg have shown how atovaquone binds to the protein and what happens at the molecular level in resistant plasmodia. Their research provides an impetus for structure-based drug design aimed at specifically improving the antimalarial.
Melanoma is difficult to treat once it has spread from the skin to other parts of the body. Classical chemotherapy is often ineffective and the majority of patients die within a few months after diagnosis. However, the biggest breakthrough in around 30 years has now been achieved with the development of kinase inhibitors that directly interfere with the cancer cells’ molecular signalling pathways. Clinical research into the application of kinase inhibitors for the treatment of melanoma involves scientists from the Department of Dermatology at the University Hospital of Tübingen.
Hit Discovery Constance GmbH (“HDC”), a new joint venture organisation between Lead Discovery Center (Dortmund/Germany), Centre for Drug Design and Discovery (CD3, KULeuven, Leuven/Belgium) and Axxam (Milan/Italy) has started its operation. The new company is based in Constance (Germany) and will make use of the already established equipment and know-how of the former Takeda/Nycomed/Altana screening and compound management facilities at the site.
Thalidomide, which was sold in Germany in the late 1950s under the trade name Contergan, is mainly known for having caused one of the biggest pharmaceutical scandals in Germany. However, what was once a sleeping pill is increasingly being used as an immunomodulatory drug for treating tumours of the haematopoietic system, something that is not yet widely known. Dr. Jan Krönke is the head of a junior research group at Ulm University Hospital studying the mechanism of action of the thalidomide analogue lenalidomide.
Boehringer Ingelheim is an important contract manufacturer of biopharmaceuticals that also produces proprietary drugs. We spoke with Dr. Joanne van Ryn, a Canadian pharmacologist who has been doing research at Boehringer Ingelheim’s company site in Biberach for over 20 years. Her research focuses on thrombosis, haemostasis and coagulation. She is involved in the scientific monitoring of dabigatran (Pradaxa), an oral anticoagulant that, in 2008, was granted marketing authorisation for the prevention of venous thromboembolism following orthopaedic surgery.
Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are working intensively on the discovery and development of new drugs for the efficient and safe treatment of diseases. However, before drugs are authorised for treating humans and animals, they have to be made into a form that is acceptable. That is where a company called Catalent Pharma Solutions, with a facility in Schorndorf in the south of Germany, comes in.
Baden-Württemberg is home to a large number of companies that produce herbal medicines, i.e. preparations made from plant extracts rather than pure compounds. In an interview with Dr. Ariane Pott from BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg, Professor Dr. Michael Wink, Director of the Institute of Pharmacy and Molecular Biotechnology at the University of Heidelberg, explains how these special extracts are placed on the market and how they differ from medicines made from pure compounds.
Thanks to an innovative treatment procedure that has been in use since 2005, surgeons from Tübingen University Hospital have been able to prolong the survival of patients with peritoneal cancer and give them a higher quality of life. This is done using a technique based on complex surgery followed by immediate intraoperative local chemotherapy on the peritoneum.