OMEICOS Therapeutics: Novel therapy for the treatment of atrial fibrillation

(PresseBox) ( Berlin / Bonn, )
Our heart beats 60 to 100 times per minute, around 42 million times per year. Disturbances of the heart's rhythm - so called arrhythmia- occur frequently, in particular in older people. Atrial fibrillation, the most common type of arrhythmia, typically represents with irregular palpitations, often associated with shortness of breath and anxiety attacks. Today, around 5-10 million patients in Europe suffer from atrial fibrillation and this number will further increase due to the demographic development. This growth is critical since the disease is associated with stroke, myocardial infarction and mortality. A major increase in its economic impact on public health systems is foreseeable.

Scientists of the Max-Delbrueck-Centrum for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch -Dr. Wolf-Hagen Schunck, Dr. Dominik Müller and Dr. Robert Fischer et al. - identified in close collaboration with Dr. John Russel Falck from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW) a natural metabolite of fish oil omega-3 fatty acids, which can prevent the heart from arrhythmia.

Based on this discovery the team developed synthetic molecules with similar structure and systematically investigated their physiological function. The results are encouraging: OMT-33, one of the drug candidates, reduces arrhythmia like e.g. atrial fibrillation in different models significantly.

Limited options for drug therapy of atrial fibrillation and the high number of suffering patients together result in a very high unmet medical need for a safe and efficient new anti-arrhythmic drug. The market perspectives of novel drug developments are therefore excellent.

To follow their idea from basic research to market entry, the team founded OMEICOS Therapeutics as a spin-off company of the MDC on the BioTech-Campus Berlin-Buch. The start-up period was supported by know-how of MDC and Ascenion technology transfer managers and financial support from initiatives of the Helmholtz-Association (Helmholtz-Enterprise) and the MDC (MDC Pre Go-Bio).

OMEICOS is headed by the two CEOs Dr. Karen Uhlmann und Dr. Robert Fischer who bring into the company a broad expertise in the field of innovation management and clinical cardiology. Under their lead the company received a first Seed-financing of 500.000 Euro from High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) and the Pro Fit program of the Investitionsbank Berlin. "The medical need for the OMEICOS drug as a novel treatment of atrial fibrillation is immense. That's why we are very excited to support with our investment the transition of the project from academic research to a start-up company" says Dr. Matthias Dill, responsible HTGF investment manager.

OMEICOS is currently raising a Series-A financing round for the preclinical development of an oral atrial fibrillation drug candidate ready for start of clinical testing in 2016.

About OMEICOS Therapeutics GmbH

OMEICOS Therapeutics, a start-up of the Max-Delbrueck-Centrum for Molecular Medicine, was founded in 06/2013. The company develops small molecules using an innovative endogenous protective mechanism for the treatment of human diseases. Primary focus is the development of a first-in-class oral drug for the treatment of atrial fibrillation, the most common heart arrhythmia in man. OMEICOS is currently building an investor syndicate to finance the preclinical development of its atrial fibrillation drug candidate.

About the Helmholtz Association

The Helmholtz Association contributes to solving major challenges facing society, science and the economy with top scientific achievements in six research fields: Energy; Earth and Environment; Health; Key Technologies; Structure of Matter; and Aeronautics, Space and Transport. With almost 36,000 employees in 18 research centres and an annual budget of approximately €3.8 billion, the Helmholtz Association is Germany's largest scientific organisation. Its work follows in the tradition of the great natural scientist Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894).

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About the MDC - an internationally recognized research institute

The MDC is one of 18 research institutions of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. The MDC, like all Helmholtz institutions, is funded to 90 percent by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and to 10 percent by the state in which it is headquartered, in this case Berlin. The MDC was founded in January 1992 on the recommendation of the Science Council to build the bridge between basic molecular research and clinical research. Under the umbrella of molecular medicine, MDC scientists focus on the research areas of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, cancer as well as on diseases of the nervous system and on systems biology. In 2010 the MDC ranked 14th on the Thomson Reuters list of the world's "top twenty" best research institutions in the field of molecular biology and genetics. In 2013 MDC and the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin founded the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) to bundle basic and clinical research, and in 2007 they founded the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC) on the Berlin-Buch Campus. The MDC also participates in three of the six German Centers for Health Research. Currently, 1 675 employees from 61 countries work at the MDC, including 506 scientists and 368 doctoral students. The MDC has an annual budget of around 68 million euros; in addition to tens of millions of euros of extramural funding.

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About the High-Tech Gründerfonds

High-Tech Gruenderfonds invests in young, high potential high-tech start-ups. The seed financing provided is designed to enable start-ups to take an idea through prototyping and to market launch. Typically, High-Tech Gruenderfonds invests EUR 500,000 in the seed stage, with the potential for up to a total of EUR 2 million per portfolio company in follow-on financing. Investors in this public/private partnership include the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, the KfW Banking Group, as well as strategic corporate investors including ALTANA, BASF, B. Braun, Robert Bosch, CEWE, Daimler, Deutsche Post DHL, Deutsche Telekom, Evonik, Lanxess, media + more venture Beteiligungs GmbH & Co. KG, METRO, Qiagen, RWE Innogy, SAP, Tengelmann and Carl Zeiss. High-Tech Gruenderfonds has about EUR 573.5 million under management in two funds (EUR 272 million HTGF I, EUR 301.5 million HTGF II).
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