Munich proves its strength against COVID-19 at
22. Pharma Trend - Image and Innovation Award

"Most Innovative Product" award in the category of leap innovations : Prof. Horst Domdey (CEO BioM), Dr. Hitto Kaufmann (CSO, Pieris), Dr. Dieter Jung (Geschäftsführender Gesellschafter, Eurecon Verlag), Dr. Nikolas Combé (CFO, Formycon), Dr. Stefan Glombitza (COO, Formycon), Dr. Carsten Rudolph (CEO, Ethris), v.l.n.r. © Falk Heller

On September 14, the winners of the "Most Innovative Product" award in the category of leap innovations were announced at the "Pharma Trend - Image & Innovation Award". Formycon convinced ahead of Ethris, with third place going to Pieris. The three Munich-based companies were each honored for the development of therapeutics against COVID-19. In addition, the winners of the "Golden Tablet" were chosen and the Pharma Trend Ranking of the best pharmaceutical companies was published.

The Pharma Awards "The Golden Tablet" and "The Most Innovative Product" have been presented for innovation and sustainability since 2000. The basis for the award and the ranking is the Pharma Trend market research, which was carried out this year among 1,400 doctors, pharmacists and patients. The award ceremony at the Deutsches Museum in Munich, under the patronage of Bavarian Health Minister Klaus Holetschek, was dominated this year by the topics of COVID-19 vaccination, diagnostics and treatment.  

In cooperation with BioM, the network organization of the biotechnology industry in Munich and Bavaria, "The Most Innovative Product®" was awarded for the first time this year in the category of leap innovations. Applications were open to companies receiving funding in 2021 from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) or the Free State of Bavaria for the development of COVID-19 therapies.

Announcing the winners, Prof. Horst Domdey, CEO of BioM Biotech Cluster Development GmbH, emphasized:

"Despite the availability of vaccines against COVID-19, the development of effective and safe therapeutics is of crucial importance. With the awards in the category leap innovations, the Munich Biotech Cluster once again impressively demonstrates its innovative clout."

The three award winners in the "leap innovations" category and their projects in detail:

1st prize: Formycon

FYB207, an innovative SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing fusion protein

SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses infect cells by binding the viral S1 protein to human ACE2. Formycon has created an innovative long-acting ACE2 fusion protein (FYB207) that efficiently neutralizes SARS-CoV-2. Unlike vaccines and neutralizing antibodies, FYB207 retains its full antiviral potential even against rapidly spreading variants-of-concern. Thus, FYB207 is a promising antiviral drug candidate for the treatment of infections with current and future coronaviruses that use ACE2 as a receptor.

2nd prize: Ethris

COVID-19 inhalation therapy with interferon lambda (IFN-λ) mRNA

Numerous SARS-CoV-2 mutations show the risk for "escape mutations" against which vaccines and therapeutic antibodies have limited efficacy. Ethris is developing ETH47, a therapeutic whose mechanism of action is independent of viral mutations. ETH47 is an inhaled mRNA therapeutic that contains the genetic blueprint for IFN-λ. It locally activates the patient's innate immune system at the virus entry site and acts broadly against respiratory viruses. ETH47 is expected to help stop severe disease symptoms, thereby reducing hospitalizations and deaths. 

3rd prize: Pieris

Inhalable Anticalin® therapeutics for the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 induced lung injury

A significant number of patients continue to suffer from severe lung function impairment after acute COVID-19 disease due to severe lung tissue damage. Pieris' project aims to treat such fibrotic lung tissue damage. The inhalable Anticalin® drug candidate PRS-220 binds with high affinity to the protein Connective Tissue Growth Factor (CTGF). In parallel, PRS-220 is also being clinically developed for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

About the Pharma Trend Image & Innovation Award

Pharma Trend is the benchmark study on innovation and sustainability. The study has been conducted on behalf of PharmaBarometer magazine since 2000 in the Rx category and since 2018 also in the OTC, Orphan Drugs categories, and since 2019 additionally in the Specialty Care category. By surveying physicians, pharmacists and patients, it forms the basis for the awards "The Golden Tablet®" and "The Most Innovative Product®" as well as the ranking "Pharma Trend® Germany's Best Pharmaceutical Companies. In 2021, the study was expanded to include the categories "Diagnostics" and "Digital Health.