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we put our brains in drug discovery

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 Consequently, industry has withdrawn from the neuro field, and the exploding medical need remains unmet.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


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.


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.


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
Christina Benda
Principal Scientist Neurobiology
Greta Del Mistro
Principal Scientist Neurobiology
Lukas Derigo
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
Principal Scientist Neurobiology
Jakub Petrik
Lab Manager
Oliver Szolar headshot
Oliver Szolar
Alejandra Silva Sifuentes
Scientist Neurobiology
Marie-Sophie van der Goes
Data Scientist

Supervisory Board:

Johannes Juranek
Managing Partner at CMS, Vienna, Austria
Wolfram Schmidt
President Europe, Canada and Partner Markets at Biogen
Georg Schoder
CFO of data AG, Vienna, Austria
Thomas Streimelweger
CEO of data
AG, Vienna, Austria

Scientific Advisory Board:

Sandra Engle
Director, Translational Cell Sciences, Stem Cells and Genomic Engineering, Biogen, Cambridge, US
Madeline Lancaster
Co-founder of a:head | Group Leader at MRC, LMB, Cambridge, UK
Chas Bountra
Pro-Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Head of Impact and Innovation, Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Oxford, UK


B Brain
IMBA - Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences
Stemcell Technologies
Vienna BioCenter
wirtschafts agentur wien - für die Stadt Wien