Alantra steps up response to COVID-19 pandemic by donating a high-performance fluorescence microscope to a Pan-European research project

Date 30 July 2020

Type Corporate News

Madrid – Alantra announced today the donation of €100,000 for the purchase of a high-performance fluorescence microscope that is critical to research the application of Interferon-alpha (IFNa) hybrids for the treatment of COVID-19. The research is co-led by the Essen Medical University (Germany) and the Wuhan Union Hospital (China) in collaboration with five top medical institutions globally. Alantra’s aid will be a critical driver for the entire project as the microscope capacity is needed for decoding the virus multiplication via host cells.

Essen Medical University has been researching the application of interferons for over 10 years. Interferons are a natural human protein that can be replicated chemically and modulates the response of the human immune system to viruses in infectious diseases. The team, led by Professor Dr Ulf Dittmer, works closely with the Wuhan Union Hospital in China, which has been using interferons in over 400 severe corona patients. The funding for the initiative has been entirely provided by Alantra, its executive partners, professionals, and Board of Directors in collaboration with Asabys Partners, a venture capital firm investing across the board in human healthcare participated by Alantra.

Several institutions globally are participating in the project: Institut Pasteur (France), Medizinische Universität Pan-European (Austria), RML (US), University of Saskatchewan (Canada) and the Network “Host Empower” formed by 13 scientists across 8 European nations active in scientific research and patient care.

With this new donation, Alantra has contributed over €400,000 in aid to fight the pandemic. In April 2020, the firm donated €305k in the form of robots and testing kits to Alberto Sols Biomedical Research Institute, a lab belonging to CSIC and the Universidad Autonoma in Madrid. This allowed them to process 200 coronavirus tests per hour, drastically increasing testing capacity at the peak of the crisis. Today, over 9,000 people from nursing homes in Spain have been tested thanks to Alantra’s donation.

In May, a fundraising campaign in the UK received donations from clients and the private equity community and funded the purchase of over 2,000 face visors, masks and washable/reusable aprons, gowns and coveralls for ten different care organisations. The visors and masks were used by healthcare professionals including trauma surgeons, ICU doctors, nurses and community care workers. The aprons and gowns were used in hospitals and the coveralls went to the Fire Service, which is helping hospitals and care home deal with the crisis.

Santiago Eguidazu, Executive Chairman of Alantra, said “in this time of pandemic, we feel it is our duty to support some of the initiatives being launched by public institutions. We are particularly proud of collaborating with Essen Medical University and the rest of the global institutions involved in a project that fits into our DNA due to its collaborative, innovative and cross-border approach. We hope that the research’s findings will represent a major milestone in the fight against COVID-19.”

“International transfer of knowledge plays a key role in the successful research on decoding the coronavirus. Every location of our research consortium contributes its competence and excellence. We are very thankful that we can expand on this strength with the important support of Alantra,” indicated Professor Dr Ulf Dittmer from The Essen Medical University.

“Together with strong partners as Alantra the Foundation Medical University Essen can enable innovative research projects in the treatment of COVID-19. The funding of Alantra makes a sustainable difference in our effort to protect life,” according to Professor Dr Karl-Heinz Jöckel, chairman of the foundation.