MedUni Vienna sells patents to improve COPD diagnosis and treatment

Transgenion (International Institute for Regenerative and Translational Medicine GmbH), a spin-off of the MedUni Vienna, stands for the successful and rapid implementation of research findings from translational medicine into pharmaceutical and diagnostic developments. In doing so, the team surrounding Rolf Ziesche, working with the Austrian Social Insurance for Occupational Risks (AUVA), the MedUni Vienna, the Austrian Institute for Technology (AIT) and international partners, has succeeded in identifying relevant markers in COPD, which open new doors in the areas of diagnosis and treatment. These biomarkers were initially filed for patent in collaboration with Claudia Ballaun of the Technology Transfer Department (TTO) in the MedUni Vienna and have now been purchased following successful negotiations by Transgenion.

“We have succeeded in identifying highly relevant markers and their expression dependent on the illness, in the functional and temporal context of the disease, which opens brand new doors in COPD diagnosis and treatment,” explained Rolf Ziesche of the University Department for Internal Medicine II at the MedUni Vienna. As a result, the transition from “healthy” to chronic stable bronchitis, and from stable bronchitis to destabilised COPD, may be understood for the first time.

WHO: In 2030, COPD will be the third leading cause of death
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is essentially the prototype of a multi-dimensional disease in people over 50 years of age. As a result of, among other things, constant exposure to all types of combustion products (including cigarette smoke), COPD has become one of the most important diseases worldwide and is the cause of enormous social security costs. According to expert estimates, the disease cost around 38.6 billion euros in Europe and around 50 billion dollars in the USA. The World Health Organisation (WHO) proceeds on the assumption that COPD will be the third leading cause of death with 6 million fatalities in 2030.

In addition to insufficient diagnostic options, there are currently no treatments which would be able to respond to COPD's unstoppable progress.  Due to the functional properties of the identified biomarkers, targeted research for therapeutic use can now begin in collaboration with all partners.

Ziesche said, “Understanding pathophysiological relationships, that is, the processes relevant to the disease in a clinical context, is the basic starting point for new therapeutic approaches. This requires long-term, multi-dimensional collaboration and financing. The success of Transgenion concepts, based on cross-institutional collaboration, proves the successful implementation of this strategy in Austria. Through this spin-off, the continuation of combing academic research and commercial use is institutionalised. I am therefore looking forward to further collaboration with all partners.”

International patent applications: PCT/EP2015/062431 WO2015/185656, WO2015/185658, WO2015/185653: “Methods of diagnosing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) using novel molecular biomarkers.” The patents describe a new combination of biomarkers to be used as diagnostic markers during the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). On successful market entry, the Medical University is a party to the technology's commercial success.

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