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Start-ups bring in investment for innovative cancer therapies

Two young German medical biotechnology companies are profiting from a rising investment trend. Analysts familiar with the industry say raised awareness of German medical biotech triggered by the success of COVID-19 vaccine-maker BioNTech is giving the sector a boost in general.

Woman; Quelle: GettyImages/Martin-Barraud
© GettyImages/Martin-Barraud

CatalYm of Martinsried near Munich and Berlin-based T-knife both specialize in innovative cancer treatments. T-Knife’s aim is to bring novel, T-cell receptor-based treatments to market. The Charité University Hospital supported setting up the spin-off from the Max-Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin in 2018. T-Knife uses its unique and proprietary HuTCR platform, to discover fully-human TCRs, which have the potential to achieve superior safety and efficacy. T-Knife says it has demonstrated pre-clinical proof-of-concept and that the platform has already been validated for more than 90 undisclosed cancer targets.

Immunotherapy specialist CatalYm, meanwhile, is “developing innovative immunotherapies” targeting Growth Differentiation Factor (GDF-15). The company says these treatments make tumors accessible and susceptible again to patients’ own immune systems.

Both start-ups made news last year, when T-Knife received EUR 66 million in venture capital and CatalYm garnered EUR 50 million. T-Knife co-founder Elisa Kieback noted that it was unusual for start-ups to bring in such large sums initially. Kieback has been engaged in cancer research for 15 years. In 2011, she was selected as one of Germany’s 100 most visionary women as part of the “Germany – Land of Ideas” program.

Germany’s National Decade against Cancer is another plan dedicated in part to promoting medical innovation in the country. Launched by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in 2019, one of its goals is to mobilize people in Germany to address the topic of cancer research while boosting support for research itself.

The Export Initiative for the German Healthcare Industry, HEALTH MADE IN GERMANY, has also published a summary of cancer research and the development of innovative drugs in its German Pharmaceutical Industry Profile. HEALTH MADE IN GERMANY is the go-to place for interested individuals and businesses from abroad to learn more about medical biotechnology and innovative drug development in Germany.