Cardior is an academic spin-off from Medical School Hannover (MHH). Founded in 2016, a Series A financing round of 15 mn. EUR was successfully closed in May 2017.
The company is focused on the development and clinical validation of noncoding (ncRNA) RNA therapeutics for patients with myocardial infarction and heart failure.
Heart failure is a major contributor to the healthcare burden and mortality worldwide. A major reason for heart failure development is myocardial infarction (MI) that leads in about 20% of patients to early subsequent progressive structural remodeling of the heart resulting in early heart failure with poor prognosis. In most other cases MI leads to chronic heart failure also with a significantly reduced quality of life and reduced life span.
Current treatment options for patients with post-MI heart failure are surprisingly limited. With no new drugs on the market, post-MI heart failure and heart failure in general remains a deadly disease with no early curative treatment options.
Our approach shall provide a novel class of therapeutics and a unique, revolutionary approach by modulating entire disease pathways to treating these diseases with high unmet medical need.
Dr. Claudia Ulbrich is an MD and health economist (ebs) by training with more than 20 years of expertise in the health care industry including managerial experience in stock listed biotech companies. She brings a broad range of experience in management and consulting and a strong network in venture capital, academia and industry, health economy, political and trade associations.
Claudia combines a high level of commercial competence with a sound knowledge of medical affairs and drug development along the valuation chain. With her proven ability in financing, deal closing and deep experience in strategy she is responsible for corporate development and investor relations.
Claudia is an integrative, experienced leader with proven success guiding international, cross functional teams. Claudia has worked in the pharmaceutical industry before she founded her first biotech company in 1998. She served as Cofounder and interim manager of several international biotech companies. Three years at PricewaterhouseCoopers as a Senior Advisor in Life Sciences were the backbone at the start of her own consulting business.
Prof. Dr. Dr. med Thomas Thum is since 2009 the Director of the Institute of Molecular and Translational Therapeutic Strategies (IMTTS) at MHH, and since 2013 visiting Professor at the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London.
Thomas is a key opinion leader in the development of noncoding RNA-based therapeutic strategies in cardiovascular medicine and the author of over 250 scientific publications, appearing in leading journals e.g. Nature, additional Nature and Science publications as well as clinically orientated top journals such as Circulation or Lancet.
Thomas is also a member of the editorial boards of the world’s most important journals for cardiovascular research (e.g. Circulation Research and European Heart Journal). Furthermore, Thomas is a nucleus member of national and international research committees in the cardiovascular field, such as the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), the American Heart Association (AHA), and the International Society for Heart Research (ISHR). Thomas has received numerous awards for his work on non-coding RNAs in cardiovascular research. Thomas has filed over 20 patents, two of which have been successfully licensed pharma companies and are currently at phase II clinical development.
Joachim is Managing Partner at LSP, responsible for the German office in Munich. He has more than 20 years of VC experience in the US and Europe, and he was or is involved in a founding and/or director function in numerous deals including Idenix (sold to Merck&Co), Nouscom, Okairos (sold to GSK), Pharmasset (sold to Gilead) and U3 Pharma (sold to Daiichi-Sankyo).
Before joining LSP in 2002, JR held various positions at MPM Capital. Joachim also worked at McKinsey & Company and at Roche. He is a biochemist and molecular immunologist by training and he has authored numerous articles in leading scientific publications, including Nature.
Ulrich is the founder and owner of Granzer Regulatory Consuting & Services and has more than 25 years of experience in drug development and regulatory affairs. He has held senior management positions at Glaxo as Director of Regulatory Affairs and was a member of Glaxo Wellcome's Global Regulatory Board.
Ulrich has broad experience in drug development including oligonucleotides. At BASF Pharma he served as Vice President of Global Regulatory Centres, assuming global responsibility for Regulatory Affairs, Drug Safety, and GXP in drug development. At Knoll he was responsible for the development of small molecules as well as several biological compounds in the indications of obesity, stroke, septic shock, and rheumatoid arthritis.
He was instrumental to the program for the first fully human anti TNF antibody, now marketed as Humira. Before starting his own consultancy in 2002, he joined Bayer as Vice President of Global Regulatory Affairs, whose responsibility extended over all regulatory aspects of development and submission projects worldwide."
Markus is a General Partner and Managing Director at BioMedPartners in Basel, a venture capital firm that manages the BioMedInvest family of funds. He obtained his PhD in Biochemistry from the ETH in Zurich and pursued his postgraduate training at Stanford University Medical School in neurobiology and subsequently at the University of Washington Medical School in Seattle.
He is currently on the board of directors of AlevaNeurotherapeutics, Anergis, Hookipa Biotech and Imevax, and was on the board of directors of SuppreMol, Okairos, GenKyoTex, Avontec and Neuraxo Pharmaceuticals. Prior to joining BioMedPartners, Markus was a venture partner at MPM Capital, where he managed their European office in Munich, was co-responsible for their European deal flow and served on the boards of several of their European portfolio companies including Omrix Pharmaceuticals, Kourion, IDEA and Atugen.
Before that Markus was at Roche in Basel for nearly 20 years, where he held several senior management positions of increasing importance in the Pharma R&D organisation. Among these were director and vice president of the global Pharma R&D strategy unit and a member of the board of Pharma R&D Directors for many years. In this virtue he was directly involved in several major strategic transactions of Roche.
Markus served on the board of directors and the board of trustees of the Swiss Foundation for Stipends in Medicine and Biology (SSMBS) as its treasurer during 1994-2002, and is currently the vice chairman of the board of directors of Unitectra AG, the combined technology transfer office of the universities of Zurich, Bern and Basel. Markus has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals and holds several patents.
In 2009 Ilka participated in the creation of the Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund as a strategic component of Boehringer Ingelheim to create an additional “window to external innovation“. Ilka joined the newly created Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund in 2010 as an investment manager and has since then been involved in several investments transactions of the fund. She serves as a board member for Promethera, Pcovery and Metabomed.
Ilka has obtained her PhD in organic chemistry from the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt. Following her graduation she spent a year as a postdoctoral fellow at the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York investigating retroviral gene therapy approaches to stimulate antitumour responses.
She joined Boehringer Ingelheim in 1996 as head of an interdisciplinary research laboratory specializing in new drug discovery approaches. Thereafter, Ilka spent more than 13 years in the Corporate Licensing Division of Boehringer Ingelheim where she was responsible for the evaluation, negotiation and the management of several global licensing transactions.
Martin serves as Global Lead Cardiovascular & Translational Medicine, Search & Evaluation, Business Development at Bristol-Myers Squibb. He leads global scouting and diligence activities for therapeutic opportunities in cardiovascular disease and pharmacodiagnostics across therapeutic areas including immuno-oncology.
Previous to joining BMS, from 2005-2012 Martin led drug discovery teams at Merck Research Laboratories to discover and develop novel pharmaceutical therapies for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. In 2012, Martin joined Daiichi Sankyo to find business development opportunities in cardiometabolic disease and subsequently joined Bristol-Myers Squibb Business Development in 2015.
Martin received his B.Sc. Hons. from Lancaster University in 1995, a MSc in Immunology and Oncology from University of Birmingham in 1996 and his Ph.D., in cardiovascular disease, from the University of Bristol in 2000. Martin then went on to receive his postdoctoral training in Dr Elizabeth Nabel's Vascular Biology Branch of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland.
Professor Bauersachs acts as Head of the Department of Cardiology at Hannover Medical School (MHH). He studied Medicine at the University of Freiburg. After training as Clinical and Research Fellow at the Universities of Frankfurt and Heidelberg/Mannheim, in 1999 he moved to the University Hospital Wuerzburg where he became Consultant and Lecturer in Internal Medicine and Cardiology and was Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine from 2008 to 2010. Since 2010 Johann has been a full professor and director of the Department of Cardiology and Angiology at Hannover Medical School.
Professor Bauersachs is Fellow and Board Member of the Heart Failure Association (HFA) of the ESC, Chair of the HFA Study Group on Peripartum Cardiomyopathy, and Past Chair of the Working Group on Myocardial Function. He is Chair of the Cardiovascular Section of the Fachkollegium Medizin, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), Member of the Steering Committee of the DFG-funded Cluster of Excellence REBIRTH, and Speaker of the Clinical Research Group (KFO) 311 “(Pre-)terminal heart and lung failure - mechanical unloading and repair” funded by the DFG.
Professor Bauersachs is an interventional cardiologist with special interests in acute coronary syndromes, left ventricular healing and remodelling, acute and chronic heart failure, as well as intensive care. He is particularly interested in the pathophysiology and treatment of peripartum cardiomyopathy, in aldosterone and mineralocorticoid receptor-mediated mechanisms, and in the role of non-coding RNAs. He is Study Chair of the DIGIT-HF study investigating the effect of Digitoxin on morbidity/mortality in patients with advanced heart failure, and is extensively involved in many other clinical trials. He has indicated his willingness to serve as an advisor for clinical strategy
Scientific Advisory Board
Arthur A. Levin, Ph.D. is Avidity Bioscience’s Executive Vice President of Research and Development. Dr. Levin has nearly 20 years of experience in the research and development of RNA-targeting therapeutics and 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. He has been involved in the development of more than 20 oligonucleotide therapeutics in clinical trials including both approved antisense drugs.
Prior to joining Avidity Dr. Levin ran Research and Development at miRagen Therapeutics and was Chief Development Officer at Santaris Pharma (Copenhagen) where he led the efforts on the first microRNA targeting therapeutic currently in Phase 2 clinical trials. Before joining Santaris Pharma, Dr. Levin consulted for leading biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, conducting research and development in RNA-based therapies such as mRNA, microRNA, and siRNA.
Prior to consulting, Dr. Levin was Senior Vice President of Development at Isis Pharmaceuticals, where he was responsible for the drug development of Isis’ products across a range of therapeutic areas. His expertise was instrumental in advancing more than a dozen oligonucleotide drugs from basic research to clinical development in areas such as neuromuscular diseases, infectious diseases, metabolic disorders, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
He joined Isis from Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. where he was Research Leader and made fundamental discoveries in retinoid therapeutics. Dr. Levin holds a Ph.D. in Toxicology from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, New York and a B.S. in Biology from Muhlenberg College. He completed his post-doctoral work at the Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology in Research Triangle, North Carolina. He the author of more than 70 papers and book chapters.
David Crandall brings both scientific and executive R&D leadership experience from 30 years in the pharmaceutical industry. Before joining the Scientific Advisory Board of Cardior Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Crandall held a leadership position at Johnson & Johnson, where he was responsible for the executive management of the heart failure portfolio, which included both small molecule and biopharma programs from preclinical discovery through early clinical development.
He was instrumental in developing a hybrid research model blending internal expertise with external opportunities from academia and biotech to successfully advance programs into early clinical development. As a component of this position, Dr. Crandall was a key corporate representative in discussions with potential partners and equity analysts. Prior to joining Johnson & Johnson, Dr. Crandall held positions of increasing responsibility in pharmaceutical R&D at Bristol-Myers Squibb and Wyeth (Pfizer) Research.
Dr. Crandall received his Ph.D. in Physiology from Iowa State University and was an NIH postdoctoral fellow in Endocrinology/Medicine at Emory University. He is the author of numerous peer-reviewed scientific publications, book chapters and U.S. and foreign patents, and has served on the editorial boards of key journals in the field of drug discovery.
Dr. Mann is the Lewin Chair and Professor of Medicine, Cell Biology and Physiology, Chief of the Division of Cardiology at the Washington University School of Medicine, and Cardiologist in Chief at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. He received his medical degree from Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia and completed fellowships in clinical cardiology at the University of California San Diego, and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Dr. Mann's primary research interest has been the molecular and cellular basis of heart failure, with particular emphasis on the role of innate immunity in disease progression and recovery of the failing heart. The author of numerous peer reviewed articles on the role on inflammatory mediators in cardiac remodeling and myocardial recovery, Dr. Mann is also the editor of Heart Failure, A Companion to Braunwald’s Heart Disease, and a co-editor of Braunwald’s Heart Disease, the leading textbook in cardiovascular medicine.
Dr. Mann is the founding editor for JACC: Basic to Translational Science, and is currently the on the Editorial Board for a number of leading cardiovascular journals. He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians the Association of University Cardiologists, the Heart Failure Society of America and the American Clinical and Climatological Association. He is the past president of the Heart Failure Society.
Faiez Zannad, MD, PhD, FESC is Professor of Therapeutics at the University of Lorraine in Nancy, France. Cardiologist and heart failure specialist, PhD in clinical pharmacology (Oxford, UK). Head of the Division of Heart Failure and Hypertension and Director of the Inserm Clinical Investigation Center at “Institut Lorrain du Coeur et des Vaisseaux”, Nancy.
Professor Zannad leads two EU FP7 granted programs: HOMAGE (omics biomarkers for mechanistic phenotyping and prediction of drug response) and FIBROTARGETS (fibrosis as a biotarget).
As the primary investigator or member of oversight committees in major clinical trials, he pioneered and/or made significant contributions to evidence-based heart failure therapy, mainly mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists (RALES, EPHESUS, EMPHASIS-HF), and beta-blockers (CIBIS) as well as in major comorbid diseases such as sleep disordered breathing (SERVE-HF), autonomic nervous dysfunction (NECTAR-HF, BEAT-HF), and diabetes (EXAMINE, EMPEROR), chronic kidney disease (FOSIDIAL, AURORA, ALCHEMIST), in diabetes (EXAMINE, EMPEROR), thrombosis in heart failure (COMMANDER-HF).
He served as Chairman of the French Society of Hypertension, Chairman of the ESC Working Group on pharmacology and drug therapy, and board member of the ESC Heart Failure Association. He is the founder and is currently organizing the Global CardioVascular Clinical Trialists (CVCT) Forum and Workshop, an annual international think tank gathering dedicated to the science of clinical trials, with meetings in Paris, Washington DC, Middle East and Asia.
As of 2016 Prof Zannad published more than 600 peer-reviewed papers. In 2014, he was awarded the European Society of Hypertension Paul Milliez Award and in 2017 the Lifetime Achievement Award from the ESC Heart Failure Association.
Scott D. Solomon, MD is The Edward D. Frohlich Distinguished Chair, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Director of Noninvasive Cardiology and Senior Physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He directs the Cardiac Imaging Core Laboratory and the Clinical Trials Endpoints Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
He received his A.B. from Williams College and his M.D. from Harvard Medical School. Dr. Solomon’s research interests have focused on changes in ventricular structure and function following myocardial injury, modifiers of risk and influences of outcome in patients following myocardial infarction and with chronic heart failure, cardiovascular safety of non-cardiovascular therapies, factors that influence the transition from hypertension to heart failure, and heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.
He has pioneered the use of cardiac imaging in cardiovascular drug and device development and use of imaging in clinical trials. He and his research group have played a leading role in many international clinical trials in heart failure, hypertension and myocardial infarction.
He led the NIH sponsored Celecoxib Cross-trials Safety Study which directly informed regulatory agencies about the safety of widely used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents. He directs the Cardiac Imaging Center for the NHLBI Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study and Hispanic Community Health Study – Study of Latinos (HCHS-SOL), the two largest NIH cohort studies.
Dr. Solomon has recently studied the role for angiotensin receptor neprilysin inhibition in heart failure. Dr. Solomon leads a research group consisting of 10 faculty members, 8 research fellows and 40 support staff. He has directed the Harvard Medical School Cardiovascular Clerkship and the Echocardiography training program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
He has authored more than 400 peer-reviewed articles, reviews and editorials, two textbooks of cardiac imaging.. He is listed by Thomson-Reuters as one of the most highly cited scientists in the past 10 years. He is a Cardiology Section Editor at UpToDate and Internatonal Associate Editor at the European Heart Journal.
Noncoding RNA therapeutics
MicroRNAs are short pieces of noncoding RNA (ncRNA) native to all human cells that act as regulators of gene expression. In many diseases, their aberrant regulation can drive disease characteristics. Targeting microRNAs or long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) with synthetic complementary oligonucleotides allows correcting the aberrant pattern. This approach provides a novel class of therapeutics and a unique, revolutionary approach by modulating entire disease pathways to treating diseases with high unmet medical need.
Cardior’s core innovation, the patented and proprietary inhibiting compound is an oligonucleotide-based ncRNA inhibitor halting and reversing cardiac remodeling. It has several distinguishing features:
synthetic ncRNA inhibitor that will reduce aberrant expression during maladaptive growth, restore cardiac function and thus normalize heart failure conditions.
the compound is a highly stable water-soluble oligonucleotide that selectively blocks specific ncRNA in the heart by parenteral application.
The current treatment stipulates a two-time treatment post-MI.
the compound proved long-term therapeutic efficacy and safety in a human-relevant post MI model in pigs, as well as in human cardiac tissues and cells, and is compatible with clinical drug regimes.
In addition Cardior has access to several follow-up candidates for development in heart failure therapy as well as has licensed a companion diagnostics approach to predict future outcome of MI patients. Finally, Cardior works on improved cardiac delivery technologies enabling safe longterm treatment of also chronic heart failure patients.
Cardior is pioneering its proprietary RNA technology to revolutionize predicting and treating heart failure. The molecular targets are non-coding RNAs linked to heart failure development that simultaneously control cardiac growth and calcium handling / contractility of cardiomyocytes.
The targeting of certain specific non-coding RNAs reverses maladaptive cardiac remodeling and restores normal cardiac function. “We are very excited to be leading this financing” said Dr. Joachim Rothe, Managing Partner at LSP and a director of Cardior. “There has been a painful lack of scientific and clinical progress in the cardiovascular field for the past 15 years, and Cardior is well positioned to change this.” In conjunction with this financing, Cardior appointed Dr. Claudia Ulbrich as Chief Executive Officer.
Claudia brings with her two decades of operational management and corporate development experience in pharma and biotech including publicly traded companies. “It is a rare opportunity to develop cutting-edge science in the area of cardiovascular diseases with a high unmet medical need. I am delighted to join Cardior at this exciting development stage of the company and together with its motivated team, quickly put on the map a novel class of drugs and companion diagnostics with the potential to prevent and overcome heart failure” said Dr. Claudia Ulbrich. “The significant funding raised at this stage of development of the company will provide the resources for an ambitious development plan for our lead compound,” added Prof Thomas Thum, who is joining the management team as Chief Scientific Officer. With a translational approach and multiple established academic collaborations, Cardior is uniquely positioned to apply innovative first-in-class therapy for myocardial infarction and heart failure patients.
Cardior is currently developing non-coding RNA based assets and companion diagnostics. Additionally, Cardior has access to a great variety of discovery programs of undisclosed targets of Prof. Thum’s pipeline. About Cardior Pharmaceuticals: Cardior Pharmaceuticals is a privately held German biotech company pioneering the next generation of non-coding RNA based therapeutics in heart failure. Prof Thomas Thum and his team have built a globally renowned expertise in the non-coding RNA field and demonstrated previously their ability to develop & partner innovative drug candidates. The Medical School Hannover (MHH) and the Institute of Molecular and Translational Therapeutic Strategies (IMTTS) offer a favorable bench-to-bedside environment to support Cardior as one of the world ́s leading centers in RNA biology.
The intellectual property was licensed from Medical School Hannover (MHH), the Max-Planck- Society (MPG) and from several world renowned French Institutes.
Cardior is the winner of the Startup Challenge at Deutsche Biotechnologietage 2017, the largest German biotech summit. Founded in 2016 by Prof Thum, Cardior was initially supported by VentureVilla Inkubator, hannoverimpuls and Ascenion.
Dr. Claudia Ulbrich, CEO, Cardior Pharmaceuticals firstname.lastname@example.org
+49 511 37484051
Prof. Dr. Dr. Thomas Thum, CSO, Cardior Pharmaceuticals
+49 511 532 5272
Image Credit: Karin Kaiser/MHH
Thomas was awarded the prestigious prize for his "research on non-coding RNAs in cardiovascular research and associated fields of research" that "provided new insight into the mode of action of various pathologies of the heart. He has developed major breakthroughs in both diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for cardiac diseases. Overall, his successful track record as a scientific investigator, translational scientist and Institute Director has established him as a leader in cardiovascular sciences." Thomas joins Peter Carmeliet (2002), Issei Komuro (2003), Eric Olson (2005), Joseph Loscalzo (2006), Matthias Gautel (2009), Jeffery D. Molkentin (2010), Walter Koch (2011), Thomas Eschenhagen (2012), Deepak Srivastava (2013) and Asa Gustafsson (2014) in ISHR's Hall of Fame.
Further reading: Press release
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