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Pantherna Therapeutics secures €3.5 million in a successful seed-financing round.The funds will be used to advance R&D activities and hire additional scientific staff. The Investors are the High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF), European Business Angel Prof. Detlev Riesner as well as the European Investment Fund and the State of Brandenburg.
ARDS is a life-threatening condition characterized by widespread and excessive inflammation in lung tissue. This inflammation induces a disease process characterized by a pathological cascade of reactions. Currently, ARDS has a mortality rate of 30-45% whereas survivors are often unable to work for several month or years. So far, no pharmacological therapy is available. This is envisioned to change. Pantherna Therapeutics GmbH develops a novel pharmaceutical agent preventing the formation of edema and lung tissue injury over the course of ARDS.
ARDS is caused by a dysfunction of the endothelium, the inner lining of all blood vessels. The permeability of the endothelium for fluids and small molecules is controlled by signaling proteins. If an imbalance exists in the signaling pathway due to lung tissue inflammation, fluids (edema) can significantly impair lung function. Development of drugs restoring the deregulated pathway has been hindered by two main challenges: “The production of relevant signaling proteins turned out to be technically too challenging. Moreover, even if such signaling molecules could be produced, another hurdle would the delivery to the afflicted tissue in the body”, explains Jörg Kaufmann, CSO.
The Pantherna team has overcome these challenges with an innovative approach involving the active drug, in this case not a protein but a therapeutic nucleic acid: an mRNA used in endothelial cells as a template for the production of the therapeutic proteins. By applying this innovative approach, the protein is produced by the endogenous endothelial cells in the lung. To ensure an effective delivery of the nucleic acid into the endothelial cells, Pantherna has developed a proprietary technology platform. To this end, modified mRNAs are encapsulated into small lipid particles, which are incorporated by the lung’s endothelial cells.
The relevance of Pantherna’s technology platform is unfolding into further applications, as stated by Dr. Klaus Giese, CEO: “With our approach to transport nucleic acids with lipid-based nanoparticles (LNPs) into endothelial cells to produce proteins for therapeutic use we are laying the groundwork for novel treatment in numerous vascular diseases”.
Prof. Riesner, Qiagen-cofounder and private investor of several Biotech companies, points out: „At Pantherna, I was fascinated by the innovative and scientifically sound approach to apply endothelial specific mRNAs. The competence of the founding team and the co-investment of the HTGF as well as the support of the state of Brandenburg are excellent starting conditions “.
Dr. Anke Caßing, Investment Manager at HTGF, adds: “The team has all the prerequisites to successfully develop the product further. The market for RNA therapeutics offers enormous potential, also in the long term. This is an excellent basis for a success story which will be talked about.”