Start-up CalTIC secures up to EUR 3 million in seed financing to develop a new class of drugs targeting TRPC channels

Newly founded spin-off brings hope for patients suffering from metabolic diseases, obesity, and heart hypertrophy

The spin-off CalTIC is developing a new class of drugs. The novel TRPC inhibitors block binding sites originally discovered as englerin A targets by Prof. David J. Beech (UoL) and Prof. Herbert Waldmann (MPI-MP). © katrin_timoff/Adobe Stock

The KHAN Technology Transfer Fund I (KHAN-I) has committed up to EUR 3 million in milestone dependent payments to CalTIC, a Dortmund based start-up, for the discovery of a new class of drugs.

The start-up builds on a long-term collaboration between the Lead Discovery Center GmbH (LDC), the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology (MPI-MP) and the University of Leeds (UoL) which resulted in the validation of transient receptor potential canonical (TRPC) channel inhibition as a promising new approach for the treatment of widespread conditions including metabolic diseases, obesity, and heart hypertrophy. Using the proceeds, the founding partners will continue their collaboration to advance their results to preclinical stage. CalTIC’s stakeholders are UoL, LDC, the Max Planck Society (MPG), and Prof. Marc Freichel, at the Institute of Pharmacology at Heidelberg University, and KHAN-I.

“The inhibition of TRPC channels presents an entirely new approach to treating metabolic and heart disease,” says Bert Klebl, CEO & CSO of LDC. “It holds significant potential for patients, and we are very much looking forward to continuing our collaboration with this group of excellent scientists and clinicians to translate it into practice.”

CalTIC’s TRPC inhibitors block binding sites that were originally discovered by Prof. David J. Beech (UoL) and Prof. Herbert Waldmann (MPI-MP) as targets of Englerin A. Results from various in vivo models support both the potency and safety of the approach of the newly developed TRPC channel inhibitors in metabolic and heart disease.

“We are delighted that KHAN has placed great confidence in CalTIC,” says Klaus Dinkel, CEO of CalTIC, “With KHAN’s investment and our partners’ continued commitment, we are perfectly positioned to exploit the exciting project.”  

“For drugs that inhibit receptors, we refer to receptor subtypes, beta-adrenoceptor blocking drugs and so on. But for calcium channels, we refer to calcium-channel blockers as if there is only one type of calcium channel, yet we now know this isn’t the case - there are many. Our CalTIC therapeutic innovation partnership will target some of these new calcium channels. It’s a hugely exciting moment to see the potential for new medicines after years of effort getting to this point,” states Prof. David Beech, UoL School of Medicine.

As its central technology transfer organization, Max Planck Innovation has supported the MPG, among other things, in structuring it’s equity participation in the new start-up company. "With the help of CalTIC GmbH and the many years of successful cooperation with the LDC, another promising technology is being promoted, that brings new hope to patients with a wide range of indications," says Ulrich Mahr, member general management at Max Planck Innovation.

About LDC

Lead Discovery Center GmbH (LDC) was established in 2008 by the technology transfer organization Max Planck Innovation, as a novel approach to capitalize on the potential of excellent basic research for the discovery of new therapies for diseases with high medical need. The LDC takes on promising early-stage projects from academia and transforms them into innovative pharmaceutical leads and antibodies that reach initial proof-of-concept in animals as well as candidate nomination. In close collaboration with high-profile partners from research and industry, the LDC is building a strong and growing portfolio of small molecule and antibody leads with exceptional medical and commercial potential. LDC sustains a long-term partnership with the Max Planck Society, KHAN-I GmbH & Co.KG and has formed alliances with AstraZeneca, Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Merck KGaA, Daiichi Sankyo, Qurient, Roche, Apeiron, e.g. In addition, LDC also works with leading translational drug discovery centers and with various investors to provide its assets for company creation.
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About KHAN Technology Transfer Fund I GmbH & Co KG (KHAN-I)

KHAN-I is a limited partnership under German law with the European Investment Fund (EIF), Max Planck Foundation (MPF), Austria Wirtschaftsservice GmbH (AWS), and KHAN-I Vermögensverwaltung GmbH & Co. KG as non-managing limited partners and Khanu Management GmbH (KHANU) as general partner and fund manager. The purpose of KHAN-I is to invest in innovative drug discovery projects and spin-out companies, primarily originating from academic sources, at the discovery, pre-clinical and clinical development stage for human healthcare and, opportunistically, veterinary care as well as to commercialise the results and products of the investments and, thus, to participate, directly or indirectly, in future proceeds.

About University of Leeds

The University of Leeds is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK, with more than 38.000 students from more than 150 different countries, and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. The University plays a significant role in the Turing, Rosalind Franklin and Royce Institutes. We are a top ten university for research and impact power in the UK, according to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, and are in the top 100 of the QS World University Rankings 2020. The University was awarded a Gold rating by the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework in 2017, recognising its ‘consistently outstanding’ teaching and learning provision. Twenty-six of our academics have been awarded National Teaching Fellowships – more than any other institution in England, Northern Ireland and Wales – reflecting the excellence of our teaching. 
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About Max Planck Innovation

As the technology transfer organization of the Max Planck Society, Max Planck Innovation is the link between industry and basic research. With our interdisciplinary team, we advise and support scientists at the Max Planck Institutes in evaluating inventions, filing patents and starting businesses. We offer industry central access to the innovations of the Max Planck Institutes. We are therefore fulfilling an important task: The transfer of results from basic research into commercially and socially useful products.

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