Drug discovery pipeline to exploit transcription factors for cancer therapy
Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jul 21 2020
Cancer is a leading cause of death and one of the most complex challenges to modern medicine. By employing cutting-edge technologies that precisely measure the effects of candidate targets and drugs on the fundamental process of transcription, the new start-up company QUANTRO Therapeutics strives to radically change the precision and scope of cell-based drug screening.
QUANTRO's primary focus will be on the identification and development of novel chemistry that interferes with cancer-associated transcription factors, a class of particularly promising targets that have so far remained largely inaccessible for drug therapy.
The masterminds behind QUANTRO are the scientists Stefan Ameres from the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IMBA), and Johannes Zuber from the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP), which is sponsored mainly by the pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim.
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Stefan Ameres is the developer of SLAMseq, a time-resolved transcriptomics technology that QUANTRO will use in its operation: "SLAMseq opens up new experimental avenues to systematically quantifying transcriptional activities in living cells.
Our ability to resolve the fingerprints of disease-causing transcriptional programs will enable us to break new ground in pharmaceutical research for the development of unprecedented therapeutic interventions."
Transcription factors govern the identity of tumor cells and have long been considered promising therapeutic targets. At QUANTRO we are combining several cutting-edge technologies in an unprecedented drug discovery pipeline to finally exploit transcription factors for cancer therapy."
Johannes Zuber, Physician and Expert, Functional Cancer Genetics, Research Institute of Molecular Pathology
The founding of QUANTRO as a spin-off company based on technologies from the partnership between the research institutes IMP and IMBA showcases that research cooperation not only produces excellent scientific results.
But also makes a valuable contribution to the economic development of biotechnology in Vienna, according to Michael Krebs and Harald Isemann, who supported the spin-off as managing directors of IMBA and IMP. Both institutes are part of the Vienna BioCenter, the largest life science cluster in Austria with more than 1800 employees.
QUANTRO was able to win two renowned investors in its seed financing round: The Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund and the drug-discovery and development company Evotec.
Dieter Nachtigall, a chemist with more than 20 years of experience in pharmaceutical research and development and with more than 10 years of responsibility in senior executive management positions at Boehringer Ingelheim, was appointed CEO of QUANTRO Therapeutics GmbH.
QUANTRO has moved into state-of-the-art laboratories in the new start-up labs of the Vienna Business Agency in the recently completely renovated building VBC6 and will soon bring more employees on board.