Licence Agreement for Innovative Co-Stimulator to Enhance Cell-Based Immunotherapy Against Cancer

Ascenion Negotiated Additional Licence Agreement between Helmholtz Zentrum München and Medigene

9 January 2019, Munich – The Helmholtz Zentrum München and MediGene have closed a licence agreement providing the company with exclusive rights to a chimeric co-stimulatory receptor for therapeutic and diagnostic applications in the field of T-cell receptor (TCR) therapies and dendritic cell vaccines. Medigene plans to evaluate the co-stimulator in combination with its TCR platform. The co-stimulatory receptor holds strong potential to improve the efficacy of T-cell-based therapies by reversing a negative checkpoint mechanism on T cells into a positive signal to overcome this checkpoint blockade and to stimulate T-cell attack on tumor cells.

Ascenion GmbH, the technology transfer partner of the Helmholtz Zentrum München, has negotiated the deal. The technology transfer teams of Ascenion and Helmholtz Zentrum München worked closely with Medigene and the inventor, Prof. Dr Elfriede Nößner, over the past few years to advance the approach from idea to proof-of-concept and secure patent protection.

‘The co-stimulator targets a hot field in cancer immunotherapy’, Dr Christian Stein, CEO of Ascenion comments. ‘T cells are extremely powerful effectors, but their therapeutic exploitation is partly restrained by inhibitory checkpoint molecules preventing T cells from attacking tumor cells. The co-stimulator reverses one of these major blocking mechanisms. In combination with Medigene’s promising TCR platform, it has real potential for unlocking the power of T cells for cancer treatment.’

The co-stimulator is a chimeric receptor fusion protein composed of the extracellular PD-1 domain and the intracellular 4-1BB signalling domain. When binding with the PD-1 domain to its PD-L1/PD-L2 counterparts on cancer cells, it converts the inhibitory signal usually triggered by these ligands into a positive one, thereby enhancing T-cell activation.

The technology also holds potential for other, non-TCR-based T-cell therapies, including CAR-T approaches, for which further licence options are available.

For further information see Medigene's press release at


About Ascenion

Ascenion is an independent technology transfer company focussing on the life sciences. It is partner to over 30 research organizations, universities and university hospitals in Germany and Europe, including life-science institutes of the Helmholtz and Leibniz Associations, the Charité, Hannover Medical School, the Medical University of Innsbruck and the University Medical Center Göttingen. Ascenion’s multidisciplinary, industry-experienced team works closely with its partners to tap the potential of their research by identifying promising results, obtaining patent protection, and turning pure science into applied technology. Particular strengths are spin-off support and project development, where early-stage projects are transformed into assets that attract potential investors and licensees. This has led to the founding of numerous new companies and the transfer of innovative medical approaches into approved drugs, changing the lives of thousands of patients. Profits from Ascenion’s operative business and exit proceeds flow via its parent company, the LifeScience Foundation for the Promotion of Science and Research, to fund further translational research at its partner institutes.

Ascenion has also initiated the pan European showcasing event BioVaria to stimulate deal making and early collaboration between Europe’s academia and the global life-sciences industry.

Further information at:


Stanislava Zollner, Corporate Communication, Ascenion GmbH
zollner(at)ascenion(dot)de, +49 89 3188140

Back to news