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Removab Approval: Proof-of-Concept for Technology Transfer in Germany


The European Commission has granted approval for the trifunctional anti-cancer antibody Removab®. It is the first approved therapeutic antibody originating from a German research institution that has been brought to market by its own spin-out together with a pharma partner.

"This success story demonstrates that publicly funded research in Germany has the potential to solve the grand challenges of medicine and society", says Christian Stein, CEO of Ascenion GmbH. "But it also shows that research, technology transfer and industry must act in concert. Only then we will be able to identify promising inventions, protect them appropriately and advance them into applications."

The partners involved in bringing Removab® to market are: the Helmholtz Zentrum München (formerly GSF); its spin-out TRION Pharma GmbH; Ascenion GmbH as technology transfer partner, and Fresenius Biotech GmbH as industry partner.

The foundations of the trifunctional antibody technology were laid in the 1990s by the researcher and entrepreneur Horst Lindhofer, at the Helmholtz Zentrum München. By 1994, the Helmholtz Zentrum had already filed the first patent applications. With the help of Ascenion, the patent estate was continuously expanded over the next years. In 1998, the entire IP portfolio was exclusively licensed to TRION Pharma, which had specifically been founded in order to translate the novel technology into medical use. Under the terms of the licensing deal, royalties are payable in the event of product success. In addition, Ascenion received equity in TRION Pharma. Immediately after its foundation, TRION entered into an alliance with Fresenius that was gradually transformed into a comprehensive co-development partnership covering three trifunctional antibodies including Removab®. The equity originally held by Ascenion was subsequently sold to Fresenius Biotech in several tranches.

As a 100% subsidiary of the Life-Science Foundation for the Promotion of Science and Research, Ascenion pays proceeds from the sale of equity to the Foundation, which distributes the funds to appropriate research projects. Royalties on product sales flow directly to the research institution where the invention originated.

Facts, background information, dossiers
  • Ascenion
  • Fresenius
  • TRION Pharma
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