Max Planck Innovation GmbH’s Drug Discovery and Development Center Wins BioPharma Strategy Competition

Published: Sep 30, 2008

Max Planck Innovation GmbH, the technology transfer agency of the Max Planck Society (MPG), announces today that its concept for a novel Drug Discovery and Development Center (DDC) will receive 20 million Euros in funding from the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) through its initiative “BioPharma – The strategy competition for medicine of the future”. The DDC was selected as one of three winners that were presented today in Berlin by Frieder Meyer-Krahmer, State Secretary at the Ministry of Education and Research.

The DDC was jointly developed by Max Planck Innovation and Inventive Capital, a London-based financial services firm, as a novel approach to advance findings from excellent basic research into the development of novel medicines. It comprises two independent legal entities: the Lead Discovery Center (LDC) and a Development Company (DevCo). The LDC, which has already started operations, will take on innovative research projects that have outstanding medical and commercial prospects but are not yet mature enough to attract professional co-development partners from industry. The LDC team will advance these projects throughout the drug discovery process up to pharmaceutical leads with proof-of-concept in animal models. By the end of this year, the LDC will be working on six projects, spanning a broad range of indications including cancer and diabetes.

The DevCo, which is expected to start operations in the course of 2009, can take leads from the LDC into subsequent drug development stages and initiate clinical studies in humans. Both companies – the LDC and the DevCo – will be staffed with industry-experienced scientists, project managers and drug developers to ensure that drug discovery and development is fully in line with international pharma standards. Thus, the DDC is set to deliver highly innovative and commercially attractive drug candidates that meet the strong demand of industry, physicians and patients for novel medicines.

“The DDC represents an entirely novel approach to technology transfer in Germany”, Jörn Erselius, CEO of Max Planck Innovation comments. “It is unique that a public research organization supports the set up of fully integrated drug discovery and development units and invests substantially into the discovery stage of high potential projects. The fact that the DDC was selected as a winner from a group of highly competitive project proposals validates our approach and highlights the excellence of the concept.”

“Moreover, with the BMBF funding, we will be able to build a pipeline of drug discovery and development projects that is sufficiently broad and diversified to ensure the DDC’s sustained success.” says Matthias Stein-Gerlach, DDC Project Leader at Max Planck Innovation. “Initial LDC projects are sourced from Max Planck Institutes. But in a second step, we are open to take on projects from various sources: universities, research organizations or industry. We are confident, that the DDC will soon become a new role model for highly efficient and professional cooperation between public research institutes and the pharmaceutical industry.”

The “BioPharma strategy competition for medicine of the future” is part of the BMBF’s “Pharmaceuticals Initiative for Germany” which aims to close the gaps in the value-added chain of drug development and strengthen R&D work on new medicines in Germany. The competition received a total of 37 applications, 10 of which reached the final round. Three of those were announced today as winners.

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