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German-Japanese Cooperation: Immunic AG Awarded Research Grant by German Federal Ministry

In August, Immunic, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing oral therapies for the treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, has been awarded a grant by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The grant amounting to up to EUR 653,535 (approximately USD 730,000) aims at supporting the pooling of German-Japanese competencies in research and development as part of the InnoMuNiCH (Innovations through Munich-Nippon Cooperation in Healthcare) project.

Immunic‘s announcement comes after an impressive development – in April, the biopharmaceutical company based in Martinsried near Munich has succeeded in making the leap to the NASDAQ technology exchange in a reverse takeover. A milestone for Bayern Kapital as well – this was the first time that a portfolio company of the Bavarian growth fund managed by Bayern Kapital has succeeded in going public. In 2016, the Bavarian growth fund, together with a consortium of investors, invested in Immunic as part of a Series A financing round and laid the financial foundation for the company’s positive development.

The InnoMuNiCH project is coordinated by BioM Biotech Cluster Development GmbH and supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The goal of the project is to accelerate global biopharmaceutical innovations by enhancing the German-Japanese cooperation in this area. With this funding, Immunic and its partners – quattro research GmbH, the University of Kyoto as well as a Japanese pharma company – will initiate a three-year research project. The project intends to investigate the effect of small molecule compounds on cellular metabolism and to study their impact on the development of T helper cells and the corresponding regulation of relevant proteins, including cytokines. The grant awarded to Immunic represents 50 % of the project’s total estimated budget of up to EUR 1.3 million (approximately USD 1.5 million).

“One of the key challenges of developing small molecule therapies for chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases is a lack of selectivity, often leading to a host of serious side effects,” stated Hella Kohlhof, PhD., Chief Scientific Officer of Immunic, “Th1 and Th17 cells play a major role in conditions such as multiple sclerosis, chronic inflammatory bowel disease and psoriasis, among others. By combining Immunic’s expertise in targeting intracellular metabolism with the vast experience and resources of each of our partners, we are hopeful that the results will lead to the development of new therapeutic options for a range of underserved diseases, as well as to qualified biomarkers that will enable us to identify patients who may best respond to such therapies.”