The British company APIS Assay Technologies Ltd has acquired the University of Bonn's spin-off project Clickmer Systems, which was further developed at the Life Science Inkubator (LSI), for a single-digit million euro sum. The startup is developing clickmers as a synthetic alternative to antibodies that can be utilized in research and medical diagnostics. Clickmers can be used, for example, to detect viral infections, determine vaccination status or detect rejection reactions after organ transplants. The company now wants to bring the innovative products to market quickly so that users can benefit from them in the near future.
Antibodies, which are made of proteins and keep pathogens at bay, are an important part of the immune system. Medical applications include vaccines, cancer therapy and diagnostics. The research group of Prof. Dr. Günter Mayer of the LIMES Institute at the University of Bonn has succeeded in replacing such antibodies with synthetic "clickmers" for specific applications. The technology is based on pioneering work by Prof. Dr. Michael Famulok, who also conducts research at the LIMES Institute.
"In recent years, our team has been able to demonstrate the applicability of the clickmer technology and its economic usability," says Prof. Mayer, who is also the representative of transfer at the University of Bonn. "Now it's a matter of working with APIS Assay Technologies to quickly bring our developments to commercial market readiness within in-vitro diagnostics so that users can benefit."
With the company from Manchester (England), an experienced developer of tests for molecular diagnostics is now taking over the development toward market launch. "Apis Assay Technologies harness the power of systems biology, big data, and novel synthetic clickmer technology to create diagnostic tests. These innovative tests can deliver significant improvements in disease prediction and prevention," says Dr. Ian Kavanagh, Chief Operating Officer (COO) APIS Assay Technologies.
The startup was developed over the past three years at the Life Science Inkubator until it was ready for investment. The project was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with 1.7 million euros. "The technology and the team convinced LSI in the evaluation process, so that we have jointly developed the project to commercialization readiness over the past three years," says LSI Managing Director Dr. Jörg Fregien.
Support from the team of the transfer center enaCom
The startup also received support from the technology transfer department of the University of Bonn and the new enaCom center. The team provided advice in areas including marketing and patenting. "We are thrilled by the rapid development of Clickmer Systems and are pleased that the project is now being taken up on a large scale by an experienced company," says enaCom director Sandra Speer.
Settlement in the Gründer- und Technologiezentrum Rheinbach
The Clickmer Systems team consisting of project leader Dr. Joachim Schorr, Dr. Nora Karnowski, Dr. Maren Hamann, Dr. Johanna Kauppila and Stefanie Büsch will continue to research and grow under the umbrella of APIS Assay Technologies. Networking with the University of Bonn and the region will continue, as Clickmer Systems will move into premises at the Gründer- und Technologiezentrum Rheinbach. "Now we can show what we can do," says a delighted Dr. Nora Karnowski.
From research to commercial development, it has been a busy road for the startup. Mayer has no regrets: "I am excited to work with my motivated team to combine basic research with applications in diagnostics and therapeutics." The researcher, who is also a member of the Transdisciplinary Research Areas (TRA) "Life and Health" and "Building Blocks of Matter and Fundamental Interactions" at the University of Bonn, is pleased that such initiatives also create jobs and promising medical prospects for our society.
APIS Assay Technologies Ltd.: https://www.apisassay.com/
Dr. Maren Hamann
Transfer Center enaCom of the University of Bonn
Dr. Ian Kavanagh
Chief Operating Officer
APIS Assay Technologies