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Mirroring The Brain For Therapies That Work

Pharma loses billions on failed drugs for the treatment of neurological disorders. Consequently, industry has withdrawn from the neuro field, and the exploding medical need remains unmet. The main reasons are that the human brain is poorly understood, and research is mainly based on animals. Thus, conclusions about treatments in people are wrong.

Purple and green dots from a stained section of cultured brain organoid tissue. The dots are nuclei of each cell arranged in circular groups.

Our Radical Approach

Why not develop drugs in human brain?

We uncover novel CNS therapeutics by employing a proprietary drug development engine with true physiological relevance. Unlike the traditional strategies using molecular targets and animal models, we recreate human disease in CEREBRAL ORGANOIDS. This biomedical revolution fuses cutting edge science using cell reprogramming, gene editing, state-of-the-art 3D culture technology, and digital biology. We apply deep AI-driven analysis to uncover complex disease signatures and push disease model sophistication a:head to create unrivaled opportunities in CNS drug discovery.

drawing: many brains inside colored circles

Patients

human cells

Blood cells are reprogrammed into stem cells with the potential to create every organ of the body. The use of patient cells incorporates the entire personalized genome of any person with any disease.

Organoids

human brain

Cerebral organoids closely resemble the human brain by following the same developmental stages, generating complex organ-like tissue structure, and creating active neural networks. The 3D tissue architecture found in young brain is recapitulated in vitro providing a complex 3D environment unattainable with 2D culture systems. Moreover, human-specific cell types exist in brain organoids, which highlights their biological relevance over animal-based models.

Relevance

brain network activity

Patients suffer from disrupted brain function which is measured with electrical recordings. We follow the same principle, and screen human brain network activity outside of humans to find new drugs. Focusing our assays on what is affected in a patient’s brain creates the most clinically relevant drug discovery platform ever envisioned.

we are drug development pioneers:

a:head leaves classic approaches b:hind to realize a new age of efficacious drugs. Our advanced drug discovery engine can be applied universally to multiple CNS diseases and therapeutic modalities. Furthermore, we circumvent irrelevant animal testing with the use of human biology. The a:head platform holds unprecedented predictive power that will lead industry back into the neuro arena. We aim to partner with forward-thinking pharmaceutical and biotech companies to offer hope to patients for whom no treatment exists.

Our Team:

Josh Bagley headshot
Josh Bagley
CSO
Christina Benda headshot
Christina Benda
Scientist Neurobiology
Greta Del Mistro headshot
Greta Del Mistro
Scientist Neurobiology
Bruno Fontinha headshot
Bruno Fontinha
Principal Scientist Neurobiology
Andrea Hofstötter headshot
Andrea Hofstötter
Head of Administration
Joanna Kaczanowska headshot
Joanna Kaczanowska-Götz
Scientist Neurobiology
Lucie Peskova headshot
Lucie Peskova
Scientist Neurobiology
Jakub Petrik headshot
Jakub Petrik
Lab Manager
Xiaoliang Sun headshot
Xiaoliang Sun
Principal Data Scientist
Oliver Szolar headshot
Oliver Szolar
CEO
Dora Tarlungeanu headshot
Dora Tarlungeanu
Principal Scientist Neurobiology
Dora Vukovic
Dora Vukovic
Scientist Neurobiology

Supervisory Board:

Johannes Juranek
Managing Partner at CMS, Vienna, Austria
Jürgen Knoblich
Vice Chair of the Board and Co-founder of a:head | Scientific Director of IMBA, Vienna, Austria
Wolfram Schmidt
President Europe, Canada and Partner Markets at Biogen
Georg Schoder
CFO of red-stars.com data AG, Vienna, Austria
Chair
Thomas Streimelweger
CEO of red-stars.com data
AG, Vienna, Austria

Scientific Advisory Board:

Sandra Engle
Director, Translational Cell Sciences, Stem Cells and Genomic Engineering, Biogen, Cambridge, US
Martha Feucht
Head of EEG-Unit, Epilepsy Outpatient Clinic, and Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at the Department of Pediatrics, Medical University, Vienna, Austria
Chair
Jürgen Knoblich
Co-founder of a:head | Scientific Director of IMBA, Vienna, Austria
Madeline Lancaster
Co-founder of a:head | Group Leader at MRC, LMB, Cambridge, UK

Partners:

Benchling
B Brain
FFG
wirtschafts agentur wien - für die Stadt Wien
IMBA - Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences
Molecular Devices
red-stars.com
Stemcell Technologies
Vienna BioCenter