Novel therapeutics and entrepreneurship - second TheraNova Summer School in Darmstadt

The Summer School of the Innovation Center TheraNova took place on September 11 and 12, 2023 at the Maritim Hotel in Darmstadt. In the Innovation Center TheraNova researchers from the two participating Fraunhofer Institutes IGD and ITMP work together with research groups from the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University and the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research. The scope of the Innovation Center is to fascilitate transfer of findings from basic biomedical research into new active substances and medical applications.

This year's Summer School focussed on cell and gene therapy: Dr. Jessica Hartmann (Paul Ehrlich Institute) addressed in her lecture the challenges and possibilities of immunotherapy with modified T cells as well as regulatory aspects in the approval of such therapeutics. Prof. Dr. Winfried Wels (Georg-Speyer-Haus) shared his long-standing experience in genetically modified natural killer cells and the translation of his findings from basic research to clinical application. Prof. Dr. Dr. Halvard Bönig (Institute of Transfusion Medicine and Immunohematology, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University) talked about regulatory requirements for manufacturing various cell products and reported on the development of mesenchymal stromal cells for the treatment of severe graft-versus-host-disease.

In addition to these exciting insights into current research work, the PhD students and clinician scientists involved in the Innovation Center gave project updates and discussed their findings. As a small excursion, a guided tour at the European Space Agency (ESA) was offered.

On the first evening, an open discussion on how to found one’s own company took place: Prof. Dr. Manuel Kaulich (Vivlion GmbH), Prof. Dr. Andreas Weigert (Phialogics GmbH) and Dr. Meike Saul (CURNOVA GmbH) talked about their experiences with setting up start-ups and answered the questions of the PhD students. On the second day, a workshop on patents and intellectual property was offered in addition to the scientific program.

We would like to thank all invited speakers for the exciting insights into current research highlights as well as important impulses on the topic of entrepreneurship. We are pleased about the progress achieved in the ongoing projects of the Innovation Center.

© Fraunhofer ITMP | Christiane Schönfeld