Ulf Simonsen, Professor of Pharmacology at Aarhus University, is leading one of the eight projects that in June were awarded the Proof of Concept grant. With DKK 1M he and his group continue their work on modulation of transglutaminase 2 conformation as a treatment to prevent cardiovascular complications in diabetes.
“It is a very special transition going from the university and into business. I have done so before with the start-up Initiator Pharma and it is two different worlds. With the PoC grant we have the possibility to create a solid case to build a business on while we are still at the university with access to all the tools needed to do so”, explains Ulf Simonsen who in collaboration with the other founders has raised SEK 38M in Initiator Pharma.
A unique approach
For the past 15 years and with a background as a medical doctor, his research group has focused on drugs to improve treatment of patients suffering from cardiovascular disease. This eventually lead to a discovery by PhD student, Estéfano Pinilla. He found a molecule with the ability to shift transglutaminase conformation to improve the endothelial function and thereby treat cardiovascular complications in diabetes and aging.
During the BII PoC program, he expects to gain clarity of the business idea through meetings with the business developers at BioInnovation Institute.
“Before us, several companies have gone down this path of finding treatment for cardiovascular diseases, and we also have had many different approaches. Last year, when we discovered this unique approach, we contacted our Tech Transfer Office at Aarhus University to file a patent, and since then we have been working on the project”, says Ulf Simonsen.
With the DKK 1M BII grant, his group can build on their preliminary animal studies by testing in diabetic animals as well as develop a faster way of testing new drugs to initiate the development of a potent compound.
“All of this is key to solidify our idea and de-risk the project but none of this would be possible without the BII grant”, says Ulf Simonsen whose ambition is to eventually take the project through to phase 2.
If you also want to take the first steps towards the market to see your research benefit patients, BioInnovation Institute currently has an open call for the Proof of Concept program. Read more and apply for a grant of up to DKK 1M.