About Velabs

Our Mission

Velabs has pioneered the use of droplet microfluidics for the screening of antibodies that do not just bind to a drug target, but rather modulate its function.

Velabs technology is based on the direct screening of B-cell repertoires from mice and humans, which offers manifold advantages:

Fast and highly diverse screening of antibodies for complex functions such as tumor-specificity, modulation of GPCRs and ion channels
Fully natural and correctly paired IgGs from mice and humans (including patients, disease survivors, etc.)
Identification of preclinical hits within weeks rather than months or even years
Minimal therapy-associated side effects

Velabs primarily aims at partnering with pharma companies in order to shorten the usual delay in preclinical hit generation and validation from several months or years to significantly shorter times.

Any partnering process with Velabs will speed up the discovery of efficient antibodies with almost no side effects.

Team

Management

Christoph Antz, Ph.D.

CEO
Christoph is an experienced company executive and former venture capital manager in the fields of life sciences with special focus on drug development (small molecules and biologicals), diagnostics and instrumentation.
Before joining Velabs, he was CEO and Managing Director of different companies like Luxendo (light sheet microscopy), EMBL Ventures (venture capital fund) and Abeta (Alzheimer diagnostics), being instrumental in company build-up, strategy implementation and financing up to successful M&A. Currently, he serves as well as managing director of Acousia Therapeutics (inner ear drug development). He holds a Ph.D. in physics (structural biology) from the University of Heidelberg and did postdoctoral studies at the University of California, San Francisco (rational drug development). Christoph is an alumnus of the Max-Planck-Institute for Medical Research, Heidelberg.

Christoph A. Merten, Ph.D.

CSO

Christoph is a principal investigator at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany.

His s group pioneered the use of droplet-microfluidics for large-scale cell-based assays: After publishing a seminal paper in 2008 (~600 citations) his lab also demonstrated the screening of therapeutic antibodies in droplets for the very first time (2012). Christoph is an inventor on a total of 14 patents (four of them with him as the sole inventor). Prior to founding Velabs, he successfully commercialized microfluidic technology and worked as a consultant for many years. He holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry (directed evolution) and did postdoctoral studies at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (Cambridge, UK) and the Institute de Science et d'Ingénierie Supramoléculaires (ISIS) in Strasbourg, France.

Scientists

Anna Pryszlak, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist

Anna is a researcher specialized in medical biotechnology with a strong background in microbiology and microfluidics.

She obtained her degree in biotechnology with distinction, at the Intercollegiate Faculty of Biotechnology (University of Gdansk and Medical University of Gdansk, Danzig, Poland). She holds a Ph.D. in natural sciences from the University of Heidelberg and did interdisciplinary postdoctoral studies at The European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). She conducted her doctoral research at the group ‘Molecular Therapy of Virus-Associated Cancers’ (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum) working on crosstalk between lenti- and papillomaviruses. In her postdoctoral project, she developed various microfluidic systems including PACS (PCR activated droplet sorting) and Single-Virus Droplet Microfluidics for High-Throughput Screening of Neutralizing Epitopes on HIV Particles.

Alexandra Burkard

Scientific Assistant
Alexandra is a medical laboratory assistant by training. She is experienced in life sciences, specialized in drug discovery and development as well as in controlled scalable propagation and standardization of human primary cell products.
Before joining Velabs she worked as technical assistant at Phenex Pharmaceuticals, Medicyte and PromoCell in establishment and implementation of new technologies, compound development, upstream processing, quality control and quality management. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from IBA Heidelberg.

Anja Thiel

Scientific Assistant

Anja is a research associate with experience in lab management and a background in cell-, cancer- and microbiology.

Before joining Velabs, she was working as research associate at BioMedX (oral biofilm disruption) and as research assistant at German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) Heidelberg (Cancer cell signaling and proliferation). She holds a master’s degree in Life Sciences from the University of Konstanz.

Nachiket Shembekar, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist
Nachiket has a background in immunology and microbiology with strong expertise in antibody discovery platforms such as hybridoma and phage display technology.
While working on his PhD at the National Institute of Immunology, India, he successfully humanized a mouse monoclonal antibody neutralizing influenza virus. He did a short postdoc at University of Aberdeen, UK, where he worked with phage display libraries of small therapeutic molecules called shark single domain antibodies that are highly stable and show particular benefits in tissue penetration. Before joining Velabs, he did a postdoc at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Heidelberg, where he worked on developing droplet microfluidics based single cell antibody screening assays with implications in the field of high throughput therapeutic antibody discovery.

Advisors

Christian Leist, Ph.D. ETH Ing. Biotech.

Since June 2017, Christian is self-employed working as Senior Consultant Bio- and Medtech. Before and since 2012 he was head of Process R&D Viral Vectors in Cell and Gene Therapy at Novartis Pharma Ltd in Basel.
In this role Christian was responsible for the CMC development for clinical supply and launch of all viral vector-based Cell and Gene Therapy projects as well as for implementation of related new key technologies. Between 1989 and 2012 Christian had several leading positions in the fields of biotechnology project and process development, transfer and production and received two Novartis and Swiss National Science & Technology Awards. In his part-time teaching position at the ETH Zurich from 1989 until 2016 Christian supervised more than 60 students performing traineeships, Master and Ph.D. theses and was invited to publish in scientific and technical journals and at international congresses.

Prof. Hans-Georg Rammensee, Ph.D.

Hans-Georg Rammensee was appointed Chair of the Department of Immunology at the University of Tübingen in 1996, after spending three years as Head of the Tumor-Virus-Immunology Section of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg.

In 2012 he was additionally appointed Deputy Site Coordinator of the German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research (DKTK). For 12 years, until June 2017, Hans-Georg Rammensee was Chairman of the Collaborative Research Center (SFB 685) “Immunotherapy” and is currently recipient of an ERC Advanced Grant with 2.5 million euros extrabudgetary funding. He has received numerous prestigious awards (e.g. Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize in 1996) and has contributed essentially to the research fields of MHC biology and tumor immunology and to the development of cancer immunotherapies. Hans-Georg Rammensee is a member of numerous scientific advisory boards and has co-founded three research-based biotech enterprises (CureVac AG, immatics Biotechnologies GmbH, Synimmune GmbH). He is author of over 400 scientific articles.

Jesper Zeuthen, Ph.D.

Jesper is a graduate in molecular biology from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He subsequently was a research fellow at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, and ass. professor at the University of Aarhus, Denmark.
During this period, he spent a sabbatical at the Basel Institute of Immunology working with Georges Köhler. Later he was recruited as research director at Novo and appointed Adjunct Professor of Biotechnology at the University of Copenhagen. He was granted the degree of D.Sc. in biology from the University of Copenhagen in 1984. In 1988 he was recruited to establish a new department of tumor cell biology at the Danish Cancer Society focusing on tumor immunology and molecular biology. The group was subsequently moved to the Herlev University Hospital and is now one of Denmarks most important centers for immunotherapy of cancer. Jesper was subsequently recruited as managing director of a large dedicated biotech venture fund in year 2000 and he was instrumental in founding a large number of new biotech companies in Denmark and abroad, most notably Genmab, where he served as chairman from inception through a highly successful IPO. He retired from this venture fund in 2008, but is working with two different small biotech companies, Genomic Expression focusing on cancer diagnostics, and InProTher, a vaccine company focusing on novel vaccine technologies, also in the cancer field.

Jesper has published more than 200 scientific publications and is an inventor on several patents.