SIUFrankfurt Start-up Initiative: Bio-Translation in Frankfurt

Members of SIUFrankfurt Team with  Dr. Björn Rotter and Dr. Dana Ukropcova

Members of SIUFrankfurt Team with  Dr. Björn Rotter and Dr. Dana Ukropcova

Author: Dooyoung Kim Edited by: Vanessa Huebner

On February 22nd 2018, SIU Frankfurt organized an event that welcomed Dr. Dana Ukropcova of FIZ Biotechnology Innovation Center and Dr. Björn Rotter of GenXpro.                             

Both  speakers highlighted the key concepts of their biotechnology projects whilst also illustrating the translation from science to startup. The event also drew attention to the free resources offered by the Goethe University of Frankfurt for those interested in start-ups. 

Dr. Dana Ukropcova, a representative of business development at the FIZ Biotechnology Innovation Center, kicked off the event by quoting the company’s mission:

“The purpose of the company is to support the development of the biotechnology industry in the Rhein-Main region, the promotion and preservation of already existing biotechnology potentials in the region, the establishment of biotech companies in the region and the creation of qualified jobs in this area, in particular through the operation of a centre for biotechnology-oriented entrepreneurs and companies.”

She then presented the German Genethics Project, which is aimed at developing innovative approaches for cancer diagnostics. She explained that the key concept of the project is to optimize cancer treatments by matching the molecular profile of the patient with available clinical studies and therapies and thus, to tailor cancer treatments to individual patients. This is achieved by a three-step process consisting of identification of biomarkers in cancer cells, bioinformatics analysis, and production of an actionable report that contains all relevant information on personalized treatment options. Finally, Dana emphasised the growing role of genomic data in enhancing health care and scientific research.

The second speaker of the night was Dr. Björn Rotter, a chief scientific officer of GenXpro, which is a local biotech company that grew from the collaborative efforts of local researchers at the Goethe University of Frankfurt. The goal of the company, he said, is to find the right therapy for the right person at the right time via New Generation Sequencing diagnostics. As an example of what the company does, Björn elaborated on the development of a research kit for 3’mRNA-Seq, also known as MACE-Seq, and how resulting MACE profiles can clearly distinguish between the hepatocellular carcinoma tissues of responders and non-responders to Galunisertib, a study drug that is in the phase II trial. In closing, he pointed out the importance of efficient marketing and sales strategies when initiating a start-up, one of the lessons he garnered since the establishment of GenXpro. 

The event ended with a cheerful networking session, where the audience had the chance to talk to the speakers and ask further questions.