Oncomatrix, a biopharmaceutical company from the Basque country, Spain, has signed an agreement with the University of Stuttgart to develop new drugs with tumor targeted activity. This partnership will allow the development of immunoconjugates able to attack the cells involved in metastasis in invasive breast and pancreas cancers. The collaboration will allow the development of biologics able to target directly and specifically cells promoting metastases of invasive cancers. The new drugs will be applied for invasive breast and pancreas tumors, targeting the tumor microenvironment without effect on normal tissues.
The innovative aspect of these new immunotherapeutics is based on 2 characteristics:
- First, the immunoconjugates are specifically targeting two proteins, which are selectively expressed in stroma cells of the tumor microenvironment, i.e. on cells surrounding the malignant tumor cells and which promote the metastatic behavior of the latter.
- Second, the immunoconjugates are composed of a strongly anti-tumoral molecule of biologic origin, and human antibodies that direct specifically this anti-tumoral molecule to the cells responsible of promoting metastasis, without affecting normal, healthy cells.
Oncomatrix thus initiates an innovative way to specifically and efficiently attack the peritumoral stroma, with the ultimate goal to develop a new generation of targeted protein therapeutics that help fighting cancer and metastasis development in particular.
Oncomatrix focuses on the development of new personalized biopharmaceuticals for treatment of invasive stages of breast, pancreas and bladder cancer, associated with high mortality. The company, located in the Parque Tecnológico de Bizkaia, Spain, has discovered new mechanisms and proteins associated with cells that surround the malignant tumor cells, the peritumoral stroma, which contributes significantly (up to 90%) of the total tumor mass and promotes tumor invasiveness. Stroma targeting represents an innovative approach aiming not to attack directly tumor cells, but rather cells that support the growth and invasiveness of the malignant cells.
Oncomatrix undertakes the development of these new treatments in collaboration with excellency level universities and research centers from the US and Europe, such as National Jewish Health, Case Western Reserve University, University of Stuttgart, Hospital Universitario Marqués de Valdecilla and Hospital Central de Asturias, among others.
About the University of Stuttgart
The University of Stuttgart (German: Universität Stuttgart), located in Stuttgart, Germany, was founded in 1829 and is presently organized in 10 schools. With 4800 employees and 24.600 students, it represents one of the most pioneering German universities in technology. Located in the middle of an economically highly dynamic region and result-oriented, the University has gained a worldwide Excellency reputation in the fields of TICs, production, engineering, as well as in Life sciences. One of its main objectives consists in strengthening its research through multidisciplinary partnership network in order to continuously expand its front position in these areas. From its total revenues (436 million € in 2011), 175 million € stem from external funding and show that the University of Stuttgart is a highly looked-after partner by governmental and private organizations, German as well as international.
Institut für Zellbiologie und Immunologie (IZI; Institute of Cell Biology and Immunology) is one of the Research Institutes of University of Stuttgart. Directed by Prof. Klaus Pfizenmaier, with 40 full-time researchers working in 8 research groups, IZI develops an intense and cutting-edge activity of translational research in cell biology and immunotherapy of cancer. Specifically, the Biomedical Engineering group of Prof. Kontermann has a strong, internationally recognized expertise in antibody engineering. Together with a group led by Prof. Pfizenmaier, an expert in cytokine biology, new protein therapeutics with tumor-targeted activity are developed at IZI. These strategies are based on the use of specific ligands to target various potent cytotoxic effector mechanisms or immune stimulating cytokines towards the tumor. Numerous publications in international peer-reviewed journals support their expertise and international reputation.