Innovation Prize 2013 goes to FZB scientist for a groundbreaking approach to the treatment of sepsis

(PresseBox) ( Munich, )
Ascenion GmbH congratulates Prof. Klaus Brandenburg, scientist at the Research Center Borstel - Leibniz Center for Medicine and Biosciences (FZB), who was today announced winner of the Innovation Prize of the BioRegions in Germany 2013. Prof. Brandenburg's work on sepsis addresses a condition of which there is little public awareness, despite the alarming statistics: in Germany alone, around 160 people die from sepsis each day, making it the third most common cause of death. There is as yet no approved therapy.

Sepsis is caused by 'bacteria in the wrong place'. Just a millionth of the bacteria present in the intestine is enough to cause a septic shock if it gets into the bloodstream. Septic shock is triggered by endotoxins, a group of biomolecules bound to the bacterial cell membrane. They stimulate the immune system so powerfully that it can run out of control. Killing the bacteria - for example with antibiotics - is not sufficient to curb the immune response. It is often even counterproductive, as the destruction of bacteria increases the concentration of endotoxins in the blood. Prof. Brandenburg and his team have therefore developed a novel peptide for the treatment of sepsis that binds bacteria and simultaneously neutralizes their endotoxins.

Ascenion GmbH is the FZB's technology transfer partner and has worked closely with Prof. Brandenburg for many years in developing medical applications for his therapeutic approach. Despite the huge medical need and commercial potential, industry has been cautious to get involved.

'This is partly understandable, because sepsis is a complex indication and many approaches have already failed during clinical development,' commented Dr Christian Stein, CEO of Ascenion GmbH. Nevertheless, Klaus Brandenburg and his team, with their excellent research and unbelievable commitment in this area, have made considerable progress. His project follows a completely new principle that, for the first time, tackles the root causes. The prize is highly deserved, and we very much hope that it serves to raise public awareness of sepsis and smooth the path towards clinical application.'

During the past 5 years, Prof. Brandenburg and Ascenion have patented the new approach and, together with partners in research and clinical practice, have been gradually developing it towards application. Convincing data has already been obtained from ex-vivo and in-vivo model systems. A company will be founded in the near future, to facilitate the involvement of investors and industry.

Prof. Klaus Brandenburg concludes: 'My greatest personal prize would be to succeed in developing a therapy based on our work. That would save the lives of more than a hundred people a day in Germany alone.'

About the Innovation Prize

The Council of German BioRegions has awarded the successful 'Innovation Prize of the BioRegions in Germany' for the seventh time. The prize honours application-oriented ideas in life-science research. The aim of the competition is not only to increase public awareness of the outstanding research taking place in Germany, but also to improve understanding of the practical uses of biotechnology. The prize is endowed with a total of EUR 6,000.

About the FZB

The mission of the Research Center Borstel is comprehensive health and biomedical research in pneumology focusing on infectious diseases, asthma and allergies. The Center's activities are characterised by an interdisciplinary approach combining basic sciences (immunology, biochemistry, molecular cell biology, etc.) with clinical research and trials, and an emphasis on much-needed translational research. On this basis, the Research Center Borstel works towards promoting our understanding of the molecular and cellular basis of infections, asthma and allergies and underlying inflammation as it relates to the lung in health and disease. With this approach, the Center ultimately makes important contributions to the development of innovative and more effective therapeutic and preventive regimens in pneumology. The Research Center Borstel is a member of the Leibniz-Association.

More information at www.fz-borstel.de
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