Press Release | BMBF provides Millions in Funding for Thuringia’s ATHANA Alliance
New alliance to develop innovative approaches for the treatment of infections
Jena/Gera, 05.07.2023 – The RUBIN Alliance “ATHANA” (antifungal therapy approaches with nanoparticle-based targeting of drugs) is developing innovative therapeutic approaches for the treatment of infectious diseases, in particular fungal infections. Fungal infections are a major challenge for modern medicine, especially when treatment is only initiated at an advanced stage of the disease due to the difficulty of diagnosis. Therefore, the WHO has recently called for prioritising the development of antimycotics.
The ATHANA alliance brings together companies and research institutions from Thuringia that are leaders in pharmaceutical biotechnology and the infection and clinical research sector. They combine their expertise in the fields of drug development, nanotechnology and infection research with the aim of developing innovative therapies. Specifically, the aim is to develop functionalised nanoparticles that deliver drugs precisely to where they are needed in the body.
The alliance is coordinated by SmartDyeLivery. The other regional alliance partners are Jena Bioscience, BioControl Jena, Dynamic42, Hapila, Dyomics, the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology (Leibniz-HKI) and the Jena University Hospital, all supported by the Thuringian Cluster Management of LEG.
Together, they aim to save human lives with innovative therapies and to develop the region into the European heart of anti-infective nanotechnologies. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding the project with a total funding volume of almost 6 million euros over three years as part of the RUBIN program – Regional Entrepreneurial Alliances for Innovation.
In addition to scientific expertise, the alliance partners cover the entire value chain for successful pharmaceutical development of nanoparticle-based dosage forms for the treatment of invasive fungal infections. The alliance aims to establish versatile platform technology for the use of target-guided nanoparticles for the treatment of infectious diseases. By targeting disease with medicine via functionalised nanoparticles, it will be possible to increase efficacy and reduce side effects due to the smaller quantities of drugs involved. With the help of a modular construction system, the innovative platform will permit the flexible production of therapeutic nanoparticles with different types of functionality for the treatment of infectious diseases. To this end, the partners will develop and apply bioinformatic methods, innovative three-dimensional cell culture models, new synthesis and stabilisation processes as well as complex testing and analysis procedures, among other things.
After the convincing performance of the alliance in the concept phase within the two-stage application procedure, it was able to win the contract ahead of 53 competitors in a procedure with 17 other alliances, and the project has now entered the implementation phase. Alliance coordinator and CEO of SmartDyeLivery, Dr Marc Lehmann, is looking forward to emphasising the focus of infection research in Thuringia and to leading this project to success.
The ATHANA alliance builds on many years of successful cooperation between the various industrial and research partners. The project is complementary to the PolyTarget Collaborative Research Centre funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the BMBF-funded InfectControl network.
SmartDyeLivery from Jena is developing universal platform technology based on functionalised nanoparticles with which medicine or other cargo can be transported specifically to the desired organ. The aim is to provide new therapeutic options for diseases that were previously untreatable or difficult to treat. The innovative, patent-protected technology can also be used for diagnostic or theranostic applications. For more information, please visit www.smartdyelivery.de
About Jena Bioscience (JBS)
JBS has long-standing expertise in the production, preservation and labelling of nucleotides/nucleosides. The company also specialises in the modification of biomolecules with the help of linker systems and coupling methods. For more information, please visit www.jenabioscience.com
About BioControl Jena GmbH (BCJ)
BioControl Jena is a service provider for the analysis and optimisation of biodata and processes, bioinformatics and systems biology, statistics (including consulting), result visualisation and model development in various areas of life sciences. For more information, visit www.biocontrol-jena.com
About Dynamic42 GmbH
D42 was founded in 2018 as a spin-off of the Jena University Hospital. The start-up develops and sells human microphysiological systems (organ-on-chip technology) that enable toxicity screenings and ADMET studies.
About Hapila GmbH
Hapila GmbH, based in Gera, Germany, has extensive expertise in the field of organic synthesis of active ingredients across all stages of development up to clinical trial samples and market products. Hapila has long been familiar with regulatory issues in drug development, GMP manufacturing (quality) and stability testing. For more information, please visit www.hapila.de
About Dyomics GmbH
Dyomics GmbH has many years of experience and extensive expertise in the field of diagnostic fluorescent dyes, which can also be used for selective targeting. For more than 20 years, a proprietary product portfolio has been offered worldwide for a wide range of applications in the life sciences. For more information, please visit www.dyomics.com
As an academic institution, Leibniz-HKI has, for many years, been an international leader in research on the infection biology of human-pathogenic fungi and the identification of new anti-infective agents. The Leibniz-HKI is experienced in the development of medicines up to clinical trials and has a library of its own active substances. For more information, please visit www.leibniz-hki.de
About Jena University Hospital (UKJ)
Jena University Hospital (UKJ) is the only university medical centre in Thuringia and the largest employer in the region with almost 7,000 employees. The medical faculty educates 2,700 medical, dental and master’s students. Scientists from over 50 nations do research here. The focus is on sepsis and infection research, ageing and ageing-associated diseases as well as medical optics and photonics. More than 300,000 inpatients and outpatients are treated in the UKJ’s clinics and polyclinics every year. For more information, please visit www.uniklinikum-jena.de