BMBF provides millions in funding for Thuringia's ATHANA alliance

New alliance to develop innovative approaches for the treatment of infections

| SmartDyeLivery

The RUBIN Alliance "ATHANA" (antifungal therapy approaches with nanoparticle-based targeting of drugs) is developing innovative therapeutic approaches for the treatment of infectious diseases, in particular fungal infections. Fungal infections are a major challenge for modern medicine, especially when treatment is only initiated at an advanced stage of the disease due to the difficulty of diagnosis. Therefore, the WHO has recently called for prioritising the development of antimycotics.               

The ATHANA alliance brings together companies and research institutions from Thuringia that are leaders in pharmaceutical biotechnology and the infection and clinical research sector. They combine their expertise in the fields of drug development, nanotechnology and infection research with the aim of developing innovative therapies. Specifically, the aim is to develop functionalized nanoparticles that deliver drugs precisely to where they are needed in the body.

The alliance is coordinated by SmartDyeLivery. The other regional alliance partners are Jena Bioscience, BioControl Jena, Dynamic42, Hapila, Dyomics, the Leibniz-HKI and the Jena University Hospital, all supported by the Thuringian Cluster Management of LEG.

Together, they aim to save human lives with innovative therapies and to develop the region into the European heart of anti-infective nanotechnologies. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding the project with a total funding volume of almost 6 million euros over three years as part of the RUBIN program - Regional Entrepreneurial Alliances for Innovation.

In addition to scientific expertise, the alliance partners cover the entire value chain for successful pharmaceutical development of nanoparticle-based dosage forms for the treatment of invasive fungal infections. The alliance aims to establish versatile platform technology for the use of target-guided nanoparticles for the treatment of infectious diseases. By targeting disease with medicine via functionalized nanoparticles, it will be possible to increase efficacy and reduce side effects due to the smaller quantities of drugs involved. With the help of a modular construction system, the innovative platform will permit the flexible production of therapeutic nanoparticles with different types of functionality for the treatment of infectious diseases. To this end, the partners will develop and apply bioinformatic methods, innovative three-dimensional cell culture models, new synthesis and stabilization processes as well as complex testing and analysis procedures, among other things.

After the convincing performance of the alliance in the concept phase within the two-stage application procedure, it was able to win the contract ahead of 53 competitors in a procedure with 17 other alliances, and the project has now entered the implementation phase. Alliance coordinator and CEO of SmartDyeLivery, Dr Marc Lehmann, is looking forward to emphasizing the focus of infection research in Thuringia and to leading this project to success.

The ATHANA alliance builds on many years of successful cooperation between the various industrial and research partners. The project is complementary to the PolyTarget Collaborative Research Centre funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the BMBF-funded InfectControl network.

Thomas Orasch