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CNATM will make key contributions in all three fields of action of the German government's high-tech strategy through the establishment of nucleic acid therapeutics and the value creation based on them.

The thematic location of this cluster in the health and care sector of field of action 1 addresses the considerable, unmet need for innovation in advanced therapies. Despite the success of the vaccines developed in Germany, the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic made it clear that there is an enormous need for active substances and therapeutic options that can be used to achieve better treatment results. In addition to infectious diseases, this applies equally to the other disease foci of the cluster: immunity/chronic inflammation, tumor diseases, and cardiovascular diseases.

The disease areas mentioned are each responsible for the highest mortality rates in the population nationally and globally. New drug principles are needed to alleviate the suffering of the sick and to reduce the burden on the health sector. Nucleic acid-based drugs are, in the view of the applicants, currently the most promising way to achieve these goals, especially since the properties and modes of operation of nucleic acids promise, above all, the rapid development of highly specifically effective therapeutics. Despite these favorable development opportunities, however, there is a considerable need to catch up, particularly in the field of nucleic acid therapeutics.

CNATM addresses this gap with projects that use nucleic acids as a new therapeutic principle and bring a high potential for application. Based on these criteria, we have selected the following translational projects in a rigorous selection process:

1. epigenetic therapies for cancer

2. immunoregulatory sensitization/desensitization in tumor and autoimmune therapy

3. novel siRNAs

4. PNAs based anti-infectives

5. development of novel nucleic acid delivery and targeting methods

6. antimire for the treatment of COPD

7. lncRNAs as targets in lung cancer.

8. novel aptamers for the treatment of atherosclerosis

9. mRNA agents for the treatment of hepatitis

10.  Entwicklung von mRNA-Vakzinen der nächsten Generation

11. CRISPR/Cas-based gene therapy of Duchenne muscular dystrophy

By establishing and expanding the development of nucleic acid-based active ingredients, the CNATM cluster will thus strengthen future competencies in a new field of technology (field of action 2 of the high-tech strategy), in which Germany must not only keep pace, but also sharpen its profile as a technology location and become highly competitive. In the current global political environment, we are learning that in key areas - and this includes the pharmaceutical industry - we must build up and firmly establish world-leading expertise and resilience in our own country. Medical progress is a field of action that we cannot afford to let slip. If we also consider the enormous economic contribution that the mRNA vaccine Comirnaty alone has been able to make (0.5% share of GDP in 2021, figures from the IMK and the IfW), it becomes clear what potential lies in the value chains that can arise from the developments of the CNATM.

Um deutlich schneller von der Wirkstoffentwicklung zur Anwendung zu gelangen, werden im CNATM von Beginn an Forschende aus dem akademischen Bereich mit Industriepartnern vernetzt zusammenarbeiten. Wir schaffen damit eine neue Innovations- und Wagniskapitalkultur (Handlungsfeld 3 der Hightech-Strategie), die Innovation fördert und Deutschland herausführen soll aus dem Dilemma, dass wir zwar exzellent in der Grundlagenforschung, aber langsam in der Umsetzung der Erkenntnisse in Produkte sind. Diesem Ziel folgend werden ebenfalls von Beginn an regulatorische und patentrechtliche Erfordernisse sowie Wagniskapitalaspekte (durch das Advisory Board) einbezogen. Wir haben uns daher bewusst für eine Zusammensetzung des Advisory Boards mit Personen aus den Feldern Regulatorik, Patentwesen und Finanzierung bemüht, die helfen sollen, diese neue Innovationskultur im Cluster anzuschieben. Eine große Wagnisbereitschaft der beteiligten Partner zeigt sich schon jetzt darin, dass selbst junge Start-Ups starke finanzielle Verpflichtungen hinsichtlich ihres finanziellen Eigenanteils und der Bereitstellung von Ressourcen eingegangen sind. Wagnisbereitschaft gehört zur DNA dieses Clusters. Das lässt sich bereits daran erkennen, dass viele der am Clusterantrag beteiligten Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler Ausgründungen vollzogen haben. Es ist das dezidierte Ziel des Clusters, diesen Beispielen weitere folgen zu lassen.

Overall, the cluster will make a significant contribution to Germany's profile as an innovation location with its innovative technological approach, its regionally bundled expertise in both academia and industry, and its distinctive innovation culture - and this in a field of demand that is of the utmost social relevance.