(Vienna, 11-02-2016) Christian Gruber, Research Manager at the Centre for Physiology and Pharmacology, was elected "Inventor of the Year 2015" of the Medical University Vienna.
Christian Gruber, together with his team, developed circular synthetic peptides (cyclotides). In the EAE mouse model for multiple sclerosis, the researchers were already able to demonstrate that animals treated with a special cyclotide develop no further clinical symptoms of autoimmunological encephalomyelitis (multiple sclerosis). These peptides are able to prevent those in the mouse.
Cyclotides are macrocyclic plant peptides which have previously been isolated in all significant plant families (e.g. coffee, pumpkin, violet, legume, grass and nightshade plants) and thus represent a versatile group of natural materials. They possess extraordinary stability and hydrophobic surface characteristics; these are ideal conditions for a peptide agent, among other to be orally available and active.
The patent for "Cyclotides as immunosuppressive agents" is based on this development. The Technology Transfer division of MedUni Vienna has registered patents in several countries.
In May 2015, together with the Swedish investor group Accequa AB, MedUni Vienna signed a license agreement pertaining to the development and utilisation of these cyclotides for the prevention and treatment of autoimmune diseases. The conclusion of this agreement guarantees the further development of the project. Based on this technology, the company "Cyxone" was established. The future objective is the development of a peptide for the treatment of multiple sclerosis patients.
Image: Vice Rector Michaela Fritz with Christian Gruber and his Research Group
Joint development between MedUni Wien and the University Clinic Freiburg
The applied cyclotide is a joint development of the Centre for Physiology and Pharmacology of MedUni Vienna (team Christian Gruber and cooperation partners) together with the University Clinic Freiburg. The scientific works were possible thanks to a FWF project (P24743). The project was also subsidised by the prototype promotion PRIZE 2013 from Austria Wirtschaftsservice (AWS).
Regarding the person
Christian Gruber studied biochemistry at the University Tübingen, molecular biotechnology at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia and graduated at the University of Queensland in the faculty of molecular biosciences. A "Lise Meitner" post-doctoral fellowship led him to the Institute for Pharmacology at MedUni Vienna in 2008. For two years (2009 to 2011), he researched at the Department for Pharmacognosy at the University Vienna. Since 2011, Gruber is working at the Centre for Physiology and Pharmacology and holds the position of Assistant Professor Tenure track with qualification agreement since October 2013. Since 2015, he is International Research Fellow at MedUni Vienna and ARC Future Fellow at the School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Queensland (Australia). Christian Gruber has already received many awards for his work, among other the Heribert-Konzett Prize 2013 of the Österreichische Pharmakologische Gesellschaft(APHAR) and the Dr. Willmar Schwabe Prize from the Gesellschaft für Arzneipflanzen- und Naturstoff-Forschung. The key research aspects of his team are analyses of the pharmacological efficacy and the physiological mechanisms of peptide hormones, neuropeptides and peptide toxins as well as their development and application as new therapeutics.