Drug Response Dx GmbH (DRDx GmbH) concluded its first round of financing with High-Tech Gründerfonds and QIAGEN. The investment will serve to develop a biomarker test kit for rheumatoid arthritis treatment guidance with so-called TNF-alpha inhibitors. The test is secured by a patent platform exclusively in-licensed by the Max Planck Society.
One of the most important therapeutic options for RA involves inhibitors of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF-alpha). Due to cost, TNF-alpha inhibitors (€12,000–20,000 per patient/year) are only used today when conventional medications (€100–1,000 per patient/year) have proven ineffective over the course of months.
However, TNF-alpha inhibitors also only show success after three to six months at the earliest and only for 60–70% of patients. For so-called non-responders, it may often take up to a year of valuable time until effective medication is employed. Early, directed treatment, however, can lead to a complete remission of the disease. Patients, physicians, and sponsors are thus urgently seeking ways to improve the therapeutic decision process for rheumatoid arthritis.
The DRDx test kit based on protein biomarkers. It enables one to predict the individual effectiveness of TNF-alpha inhibitors for each RA patient before medication is given.
The founders of DRDx, Dr. Zoltán Konthur and Dr. Karl Skriner, have a background in internationally renowned scientific circles (Max Planck Society and Charité). Joining them is Dr. Jörg-M. Hollidt, an entrepreneur in the area of in vitro diagnostics (IVD) and CEO of in.vent Diagnostica GmbH. After several years of collaboration, the team has developed a biomarker set and from it the functional model of a routinely applicable test kit. This enables DRDx to identify with confidence those RA patients not susceptible to therapy with TNF-alpha inhibitors.
A proof of concept is already in place for the antibody-based verification procedure in an ELISA format (Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay). The required biomarkers can also already be produced in high technical quality and fairly large quantities. “The next steps in development now concern the clinical validation of our diagnostic. In addition, we will test to what extent we can predict the effectiveness of TNF-alpha inhibitors for other indications and the effectiveness of non-TNF-alpha medications for RA,” says Managing Director Dr. Konthur.