Technology transfer success: US approval for bleeding disorder drug

VONVENDI [von Willebrand factor (Recombinant)]”, the new drug from Baxalta Incorporated, a global biopharmaceutical company recently spun off from Baxter International, has just been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. It is the first, and so far the only, recombinant protein for the treatment of von Willebrand disease, and offers those affected a new therapeutic option for the first time in more than 10 years.

David Ausserhofer/MDC

VONVENDI relates to a substance patented by the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in the Helmholtz Association that arose from the work of Prof. Michael Bader and Dr Diego Walter. The scientists investigated serotonin-modulating agents that could be used for the treatment of bleeding disorders, including von Willebrand factor.

Some years ago Ascenion GmbH, the MDC’s technology transfer partner, negotiated a licensing agreement between the MDC and Baxter that gave the company exclusive rights to use the recombinant factor for the treatment of bleeding disorders. In exchange, Baxter agreed to pay the MDC milestone payments and licensing fees. Beyond the licensing of the substance patent, the MDC was not involved in the development of the drug.

“Following the approval of Amgen’s cancer drug Blincyto, this is the second product based on MDC patents to reach the market within the space of a few months,” says Dr Christian Stein, CEO of Ascenion. “This is a great success for patients worldwide – and for technology transfer.” The licensing revenues could enable the MDC to initiate further pioneering research projects.

The MDC’s interim scientific director, Prof. Dr Thomas Sommer, says: “The transfer of our molecular biology research findings into application has been part of our mission since the MDC was founded. I’m all the more delighted to see two drugs reach the market in such a short space of time.” This success underlines once again the value of basic research.

Von Willebrand disease is the most common inherited bleeding disorder. Genetic mutations result in changes in von Willebrand factor – a protein required in blood clotting – that result in it being produced at reduced levels, or not at all. The result is an increased tendency to bleed which, depending on disease severity, can result in massive bleeding. It affects up to one in every 100 people worldwide, although only an estimated one in one million people suffers the most severe form of the disease.

About Ascenion


Ascenion GmbH is an IP asset management company with particular expertise in the life sciences. Ascenion advises and supports public research institutions with regard to the protection and exploitation of their intellectual property (patents, know-how, materials), and initiates and mediates license agreements between research institutions and industry. The company places particular emphasis on coaching company founders and on active equity management. Ascenion was founded in 2001 as a 100% subsidiary of the LifeScience Foundation for the Promotion of Science and Research and is exclusive technology transfer partner of 23 research institutes in the Helmholtz and Leibniz Associations, as well as of the Charité, the Hannover Medical School and the research institute TWINCORE. Ascenion currently markets over 750 technologies on behalf of these institutes, and closes an average of about 80 revenue-generating agreements between research and industry per year. The team has also coached numerous spin-offs through their foundation and early growth and Ascenion holds equity in 26 of these companies. Ascenion’s headquarters are in Munich, with further offices in Berlin, Braunschweig, Hamburg, Hanover and Neuherberg.


For Ascenion:

Dr. Susanne Letzelter
T: +49 89 318814-16

For the MDC:

Josef Zens
T: +49 30 9406-2118


Further information