Boehringer Ingelheim Acquires Novel Oncology Delivery Technology

Apr 1, 2019 | Leading Pharma, Pharma Watch

German-based, privately-held Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) picked up ICD Therapeutics, the MacroDel biologics-delivery platform developer, for an undisclosed amount. The industry sponsor will leverage the platform to develop novel therapeutics in collaboration with nanoPET Pharma GmbH, a former shareholder of ICD Therapeutics. BI is sharing little details.  Norbert Kraut, PhD, Global Head of Cancer Research for BI reported that “Boehringer Ingelheim’s collaboration with nanaPET Pharma has the potential to eliminate the hurdle that many cancer biologics face: getting access to targets inside tumor cells.”  Kraut continued “ We will use ICD’s MacroDel technology to develop first-in-class potential drug candidates for intracellular targets across a variety of tumor types, for the benefit of patients who so far have no or only inadequate treatment options.”

The goal is to leverage the ability to engineer proteins and peptides to block protein-protein interactions inside cancer cells. A traditional challenge is the their large size prevents intracellular delivery. Enter ICD’s MacroDel technology, which exploits transporter proteins in the cell membrane to delivery such drug candidates inside tumor cells. This possibility opens up therapeutic targets that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Andreas Briel, PhD, Managing Director of nanoPET Pharma GmbH stated “We are excited to contribute to Boehringer Ingelheim’s discovery and development of innovative medicines for patients in need.”

What is the MacroDel?

The goal with this technology is to deliver “medicinal cargo” to disrupt the disease process in a precise manner at the molecular level. As described in BI’s press release, dendrimers, tree-like highly branched molecules, form a fundamental component of the MacroDel platform. Due to the size, shape and electrical charge of its structure it can grasp large therapeutic biological molecules. Once binding to the biologic, the subsequent compound selectively interacts with transporter proteins known to be highly expressed on the tumor cell wall membranes. The transporters carry the compound through the membrane and into the cell.

Previous Financing

BI’s Venture Fund (BIVF) made a previous investment in ICD’s development of the MacroDel technology.  The BIVF strategically invests in innovative therapeutics-focused biotechnology companies enabling development of therapeutic applications that have potential for strategic BI partnerships, or others pharmaceutical partners. There is little information available online about ICD Therapeutics. It appears to have survived off of grants from European Funds for Development  and BI’s previous venture financing.  BI will now partner with German-based nanoPET Pharma  to work towards monetizing this acquisition.  produces contract media and also develops special contract agents for specific applications in biopharmaceutical research.

Boehringer Ingelheim—Past is Present

Founded in 1885 by Albert Boehringer, BI is the largest privately held “pharma” worldwide. Its culture is driven by a focused and aggressive leadership—from top on down. The company is owned by three clans; some of whom are active in the business.  Now at the fourth generation of ownership: Boehringer, Liebrecht and von Baumbach families own the company. There are pros and cons to this model.  Not being publicly traded means that there is less transparency over decision making (at a high level from the outside looking in). On the other hand, they are free to do what they want to–within boundaries of course.  They are known to run a tough but employee family-friendly company. Moreover they have engaged various charitable activities in the past.  TrialSite News recently covered   they were the only pharma to take on the legal challenge of the AbbVie Humira patent thicket.