Cancer research: Vienna BioCenter start-up breaks new ground in drug discovery

The new start-up QUANTRO Therapeutics at the Vienna BioCenter uses innovative transcriptome profiling technologies in a novel drug discovery pipeline to identify and develop effective anti-tumor therapeutics. The company is a spin-off resulting from the long-standing research cooperation between the institutes IMP and IMBA as well as the pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim and the Austrian Academy of Sciences. QUANTRO received seed-investment by Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund and Evotec and will soon expand its research team.

Cancer is a leading cause of death and one of the most complex challenges to modern medicine. By employing cutting-edge technologies that precisely measure the effects of candidate targets and drugs on the fundamental process of transcription, the new start-up company QUANTRO Therapeutics strives to radically change the precision and scope of cell-based drug screening. QUANTRO's primary focus will be on the identification and development of novel chemistry that interferes with cancer-associated transcription factors, a class of particularly promising targets that have so far remained largely inaccessible for drug therapy.

The masterminds behind QUANTRO are the scientists Stefan Ameres from the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IMBA), and Johannes Zuber from the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP), which is sponsored mainly by the pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim. Stefan Ameres is the developer of SLAMseq, a time-resolved transcriptomics technology that QUANTRO will use in its operation: "SLAMseq opens up new experimental avenues to systematically quantifying transcriptional activities in living cells. Our ability to resolve the fingerprints of disease-causing transcriptional programs will enable us to break new ground in pharmaceutical research for the development of unprecedented therapeutic interventions.”

Johannes Zuber is a physician and a recognized expert in functional cancer genetics. "Transcription factors govern the identity of tumor cells and have long been considered promising therapeutic targets. At QUANTRO we are combining several cutting-edge technologies in an unprecedented drug discovery pipeline to finally exploit transcription factors for cancer therapy" says Zuber.

The founding of QUANTRO as a spin-off company based on technologies from the partnership between the research institutes IMP and IMBA showcases that research cooperation not only produces excellent scientific results, but also makes a valuable contribution to the economic development of biotechnology in Vienna, according to Michael Krebs and Harald Isemann, who supported the spin-off as managing directors of IMBA and IMP. Both institutes are part of the Vienna BioCenter, the largest life science cluster in Austria with more than 1800 employees.

QUANTRO was able to win two renowned investors in its seed financing round: The Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund and the drug-discovery and development company Evotec. Dieter Nachtigall, a chemist with more than 20 years of experience in pharmaceutical research and development and with more than 10 years of responsibility in senior executive management positions at Boehringer Ingelheim, was appointed CEO of QUANTRO Therapeutics GmbH. QUANTRO has moved into state-of-the-art laboratories in the new start-up labs of the Vienna Business Agency in the recently completely renovated building VBC6 and will soon bring more employees on board.

About QUANTRO Therapeutics GmbH
QUANTRO Therapeutics (“QUANTRO”) is a research-based entity that strives to discover and develop novel therapeutics interfering with disease-causing transcriptional programs in cancer and other diseases. QUANTRO will assemble a highly innovative drug-discovery pipeline that employs time-resolved RNA sequencing and comparative transcriptomics to identify and develop drug candidates interfering with transcriptional regulators. The first focus will be on cancer-associated transcription factors, which so far have been unamenable to pharmacologic intervention. QUANTRO was founded as a spin-off of the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (“IMBA”) and the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (“IMP”), both located in Vienna, Austria. Seed investors are Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund and Evotec. For more information:

About the Vienna BioCenter
The Vienna BioCenter is a leading life sciences hub in Europe, offering an extraordinary combination of research, business and education in a single location. Over 1,800 employees, 91 research groups, 31 biotech companies, 1,300 students and scientists from 80 countries create a highly dynamic and stimulating environment.