Technische Universität München is responsible for biochemical/structural Anticalin research (SAR) and will support Pieris in the design and selection of Anticalin backup molecules, surrogate candidates and optimization of plasma half-life.

Technische Universität München (TUM) is one of Europe‘s leading technical universities. It has about 460 professors, 7,500 academic and non-academic staff (including those at the associated university hospital), and 26,000 students. It focuses on the engineering sciences, natural sciences, life sciences, medicine, and economic sciences. In 2006, TUM was selected as an elite university by the German Science Council and the German Research Foundation (DFG). TUM is dedicated to the ideal of a top-level research based entrepreneurial university. Its Institute of Biological Chemistry is headed by Prof. Skerra and located at the Life Science Campus Weihenstephan (WZW) of TUM, in walking distance to Pieris AG. The laboratory currently hosts 30 employees and is well equipped for state of the art experimental research in molecular biology, including genetic/protein library selection techniques (phage display, laboratory robotics, FACS), cell culture, bacterial protein production, protein purification, spectroscopic characterisation (UV/VIS, fluorescence, CD, Biacore), and X-ray structural analysis. The unit has received national funding from various pro- grams of the DFG, BMBF, EU FP6 and through several Industry Collaborations.

The research focus of Prof. Skerra's laboratory is in the area of protein engineering, with almost 20 years experience in the biochemistry of lipocalins, and has originally developed Anticalins as a novel class of binding proteins. There, the crystal structures of four natural human members (out of 10-12) of the lipocalin protein family have been elucidated, providing important insight into their structure-function relationships and suitability as a robust protein scaffold. Furthermore, this laboratory has developed random libraries for the selection of Anticalins and developed the procedures to quickly generate and optimize Anticalins as candidates for preclinical as well as clinical research. Recently, this group has successfully performed X-ray structural analyses of several therapeutically promising Anticalins, e.g. directed against VEGF-A, Y-DTPA, A-beta, FnED-B, and human Hepcidin. This knowledge will provide valuable guidance for the optimization of stability, affinity, and specificity of Anticalin drug candidates. This group has also experience in the engineering of the plasma half-life of therapeutic proteins, for example via fusion to an albumin-binding domain or via its proprietary PASylation technology. Prof. Skerra and his co-workers are (co)-inventors on more than 20 international patent applications, of those more than half are devoted to the Anticalin technology (either licensed from TUM to Pieris or filed by Pieris AG). He has (co-)authored more than 120 publications including key publication on alternative scaffolds for therapeutics.

For more information, please contact Prof. Skerra’s office.