The biotech company and Prof. Dr. Heikenwälder see common ground for joint research projects in NASH and cancer metabolism

Ludwigshafen, Germany, April 5, 2019

“I am intrigued by the level of knowledge that Phenex has gained in the liver field over the last ten years and about the option to test new exploratory drugs in our animal models.”
– Prof. Dr. Heikenwälder –
Research group at DKFZ

Phenex Pharmaceuticals AG (Phenex) today announced that the company has entered into a research collaboration with the group of Prof. Dr. Mathias Heikenwälder from the DKFZ (German Cancer Research Center) in Heidelberg. Phenex has ongoing research projects in the fields of NASH (Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis), immuno-oncology and cancer metabolism and Prof. Dr. Heikenwälder is deeply interested in understanding the progression from NASH towards liver
cancer, in particular. Therefore, both parties see a high overlap in their research interest which is why the join forces for the benefit of gaining deeper insights into the respective disease physiologies.

Prof. Dr. Heikenwälder comments: “I am intrigued by the level of knowledge that Phenex has gained in the liver field over the last ten years and about the option to test new exploratory drugs in our animal models. This is a good example to show that we take translational research really serious. We want to see our disease knowledge contributing to the advancements of new therapies and this is exactly what Phenex does.”

Dr. Claus Kremoser, CEO of Phenex, adds: “We are very excited about working together with Mathias and his group. He has a very good reputation in the field and an outstanding track record of research exactly at these crossroads between metabolism and cancer where we also position ourselves. It is just a lucky coincidence that such a good scientist is in biking distance from us, here in Heidelberg, and we are really looking forward to jointly test new drug candidates and to gain insights from his scientific work.”

About Prof. Dr. Mathias Heikenwälders research group at DKFZ

Univ. Prof. Heikenwälder heads the Division of Chronic Inflammation and Cancer at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg focusing on the link between chronic inflammation, tissue damage and cancer, with the main focus on inflammation driven liver cancer.

The division aims at understanding the different immune signatures of chronic inflammatory human liver diseases driving tissue damage and cancer using patient material and relevant preclinical mouse models. Focus is set on comparative studies of tissue specimen of human patients and animal models, recapitulating human disease on a histopathological and pathophysiological level. Several therapeutic compounds are tested in single but also combinatorial fashion (e.g. novel immune check point inhibitors) employing newly established or stratified pre-clinical mouse models and clinical pilot studies. Recently, the division led by Univ. Prof. Heikenwälder was rated the third most cited in German speaking countries in the field of “Cell Biology” from 2012 – 2016.


Waldhofer Str. 104
69123 Heidelberg
Phone: +49 6221 65282-0
Fax: +49 6221 65282-10
Dr. Claus Kremoser
Thomas Hoffmann

About Phenex Pharmaceuticals AG

Phenex is a privately held drug discovery and development company headquartered in Heidelberg. The biopharmaceutical company can now build on nineteen years of expertise in exploring and defining innovative, potent and selective new drug candidates from small molecules. Phenex´s R&D activities are centered around diseases of liver such as NASH and cancer.