HAPILA and ATHANA alliance receive funding for nanoparticle antifungal program

The ATHANA alliance that unites key players in the Thuringia life sciences cluster, including HAPILA GmbH, has attracted significant new German Federal funding to develop innovative approaches for treating fungal infections.

The funding, from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), allocates close to 6m euros as part of the RUBIN Regional Entrepreneurial Alliances for Innovation program.

Research priority

The funding will specifically support development of innovative therapeutic approaches for the treatment of infectious diseases, in particular antifungal therapy approaches through nanoparticle-based targeting of drugs. This is in line with recent World Health Organization (WHO) policy declaring development of antimycotics a priority area for pharma R&D.

Convincing performance by the ATHANA Alliance in the concept phase within the two-stage application procedure has enabled it to win the funding contract in a highly competitive, national German procedure involving 17 other alliances. The project has now entered its Implementation Phase.

The ATHANA alliance brings together companies and research institutions from Thuringia that are leaders in pharmaceutical biotechnology or the infection and clinical research sector. Along with HAPILA as a highly capable and sophisticated CDMO, other alliance members include Jena Bioscience, BioControl Jena, Dynamic42, Dyomics, the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology (Leibniz-HKI) and the Jena University Hospital.

The ATHANA members are combining their expertise in the fields of drug development, nanotechnology and infection research with the aim of developing functionalized nanoparticles that deliver drugs precisely to where they are needed in the body.

Broad spectrum capabilities

Reporting the award of funding, the HKI-Leibnitz newsletter notes that, in addition to scientific expertise, the alliance partners cover the entire value chain for successful pharmaceutical development of nanoparticle-based dosage forms of active ingredients for the treatment of invasive fungal infections.

HKI-Leibnitz says this broad spectrum of capabilities should allow the alliance to establish a versatile platform technology for the use of target-guided nanoparticles for the treatment of infectious diseases. With the help of a modular construction system, the innovative platform will permit the flexible production of therapeutic nanoparticles with different functionalities, supported by bioinformatic methods, innovative three-dimensional cell culture models, new synthesis and stabilization processes as well as complex testing and analysis procedures.

The alliance is coordinated by the research company SmartDyeLivery, whose CEO, Dr Marc Lehmann, is Project Leader. The project complements the PolyTarget Collaborative Research Centre funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the BMBF-funded InfectControl network.