Radboud University: New spin-off QurieGen can have a major impact on drug development

QurieGen is a new spin-off of Radboud University that supports pharmaceutical companies in the early identification of successful drug molecules. This will have a major impact on the drug development process as it will enable rapid decision-making during drug design cycles to determine successful drug candidates for further studies on patients and drug combinations studies.

QurieGen has developed a unique method (QuRIEseq) to quantitatively map the mode of action of drug candidates across multiple pathways. The platform allows for high-throughput simultaneous quantification of multiple molecular “layers”: mRNA molecules and 100’ (potentially 1000’) membrane and intracellular (phospho)proteins across multiple pathways with single-cell resolution. This innovation replaces many different, mutually incompatible analytical tools that at best provide an incomplete picture of the cell response to drug perturbations.

Kinga Matula, a postdoc at Radboud University and co-founder and CEO of QurieGen: “Many drugs are designed to block a certain single target or protein in a signaling pathway. But our linear view of these pathways belies the enormous complexity of cellular networks. There is a severe lack of quantitative understanding of the mode of action of drug molecules across multiple pathways. We need tools that will allow us to capture and ‘untangle’ the full complexity of signaling networks and obtain the quantitative map of the dynamics of the cellular response. This will help to understand how drug candidates work before they enter preclinical testing and clinical trials, preventing the occurrence of unexpected downstream effects that are leading to diminished efficacy, toxic side effects, or the origin of resistance. Such a solution will be a ‘game changer’ – it will save time and money but also open the route to design new (better) treatment for patients.”

Major impact on drug development
QurieGen’s new and unique method will have a major impact on the drug development process as it provides insight into patient response to drugs, identifies promising drug targets, and opens up new routes for studying (new and more effective) drug combinations, or finding new disease patterns.

The near-term business goal is to build QurieGenQurieGen’s reputation as a leader in the field and engage with pharma R&D to identify the most suitable pathways and disease areas.

QurieGens’ long term goal is to enable the data-driven discovery of new cellular response patterns and new drug targets. By quantifying the cellular response to hundreds of cancer drugs and stimuli, they will generate a large data sets necessary to train algorithms that can identify cell-type- or patient-specific responses to drugs, and new drug targets. QurieGen is now taking the first steps towards the algorithm-driven approach by studying the mode of action of four BTK-inhibitors used for B-cell cancer treatment.

The potential of the QurieGen technology is appreciated by key players in the field, as evidenced by pilot trials with Aduro Biotech (Oss, the Netherlands), Janssen Pharmaceutica J&J (Beerse, Belgium), and Acerta Pharma (part of AstraZeneca, Oss, the Netherlands).

In may 2022, QurieGen won the NWO Venture Challenge.

World-leading scientists
The core of the QurieGen team is composed of entrepreneurs and scientists with strong expertise in single-cell, pharma, and business development. The technology development is based on years of experience and access to state-of-the-art equipment and know-how.

The founding team consists of:

Dr. eng. Kinga Matuła (CEO), co-founder, In 2018, she was working as a postdoctoral researcher in a spin-off company Cytofind Diagnostics, Dr. Matuła is a recipient of the Primus inter pares award (for best graduates of Rzeszow University, Poland), Young researchers Institute of Physical Chemistry PAS’ award (2017), and 5 grants. Dr. Matuła has extensive experience in single-cell multi-omics, microfluidics, cancer biology, and chemical and process engineering
Prof. dr. Wilhelm Huck, board member, co-founder and Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of Sphere Fluidics (2010), co-founder of Cytofind Diagnostics (2017) and QurieGen (2022). Spinoza prize winner (2016) , Groeifonds winner (2022)
Dr. Hans van Eenennaam, Scientific and business advisor. Has over 20 years of experience in pharma R&D, was co-founder of BioNovion, co-inventor of Keytruda and former executive VP of Aduro Biotech Europe. Dr. Hans Eenennaam, recently served as Chief Scientific Officer of AIMM Therapeutics and up until March 2019 as Executive Vice President of Antibody Research and Site Head for Aduro Biotech Europe.
Ir. Jasper Levink, a former Board Member & Managing Director of Ttopstart, which transforms healthcare and life sciences by accelerating the introduction of impactful innovations, he is Non-Executive Board Member & Co-Owner of doccs | de slimme aanpak voor betere zorg and co-Founder and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Feniks and is CBO at LenioBio GmbH