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A method for inducing cellular apoptosis

Organization name

ascenion GmbH



Many diseases such as degenerative diseases, cancer, or the rejection reactions after organ transplantation are caused by a disorder at cellular or cell type level. A variety of studies are focused on the elucidation of individual gene functions within cells and organisms to elucidate these processes and to understand their molecular basis. Efficient novel cellular approaches to study specific disorders can help to understand the pathogenesis and to improve the treatment of related diseases.


The technology offers an inducible cellular switch to induce apoptosis in a variety of cell types. Taking advantage of a mutant estrogen receptor ligand binding domain (ERT2), novel caspase fusion proteins were developed. Expression can be induced by the uptake of the synthetic ligand 4-OH tamoxifen which will rapidly induce apoptotic cell death in human, murine, and zebrafish cells.

The apoptotic switch system can be used for

  • Generating animal models of degenerative diseases (e.g. neurological, heart disease) or for aging research.
  • Gene and cell therapy providing a control system for transplanted cells. It allows to enhance the safety of cell therapy (graft versus host reaction) and offers the ablation of specific cells via an inducible safety switch that allows to kill genetically modified or transplanted cells and their progeny.
  • Stem cell research and therapy.

Commercial Opportunity

The technology is available for in-licensing.

Patent situation

In June 2007 a priority claiming application was filed in Europe (EP 07012138.9) followed by a PCT application in 2008. National phases were entered in US and EP.

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