About Amcure

Amcure is a privately held, clinical-stage company developing peptide-based compounds for the treatment of highly metastatic forms of squamous cancer.

Lead candidate AMC303 is being developed as a treatment for patients with advanced and metastatic squamous tumors, e.g. head and neck cancer, esophageal cancer, cervical cancer, and lung cancer. AMC303 has a high specificity for inhibiting CD44v6, a co-receptor required for signaling through multiple cellular pathways (c-Met, VEGFR-2, RON). CD44v6 maintains an immunosuppressive and tumor permissive microenvironment promoting angiogenesis and the development of metastases. By blocking CD44v6, AMC303 inhibits tumor growth via direct and indirect effects on tumor cells and the stroma. AMC303 is currently in a Phase Ib trial and has demonstrated strong effects in in vivo proof-of-concept studies.

Established in 2012, amcure GmbH is a spin-off from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and is supported by a grant from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Management Team

Klaus Dembowsky, MD, PhD


Dr. Klaus Dembowsky has been CEO of amcure since 2015. He has over 25 years of experience in research and development for pharmaceutical and biotech companies and a track record of successfully bringing innovative drugs into clinical development and to the market. He worked for more than 10 years at Bayer’s research institute and served in different management positions in the biotech industry, as VP Drug Discovery at Ingenium Pharmaceuticals, Managing Director at Speedel Experimenta, and Chief Medical Officer at Polyphor. Dr. Dembowsky received his medical degree from the University of Heidelberg and habilitated in neurophysiological research in 1988.

Matthias Klaften, PhD


Dr. Matthias Klaften is one of the co-founders of amcure. As Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer, he is responsible for the operative management of amcure. He has expertise in the development of high-tech projects and has advised many biotech start-up companies as business development manager and consultant for Spin-Off projects at the department of Innovation Management at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Prior to that, he was a project leader for several medtech projects funded by the Helmholtz Society, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi). Dr. Klaften received his PhD from the Institute for Experimental Genetics at the Helmholtz Zentrum München.

Klaus Bender, PhD

Head of Clinical Development

Dr. Klaus Bender was appointed Head of Clinical Development at amcure GmbH in 2017. Previously, he was Head of Clinical Development at Acino Pharma AG for seven years. He has more than 20 years of experience in leading roles in pharmaceutical and biotech companies with a focus on Clinical Research and Development as well as Medical Marketing. Dr. Bender earned his PhD at the Swiss Tropical Institute in Basel and worked as a scientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel) prior to joining the pharmaceutical industry.

Scientific Advisory Board

Donald M. McDonald, MD, PhD

Dr. Donald McDonald is on the faculty of the University of California – San Francisco, where he is a member of UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, Investigator in the Cardiovascular Research Institute, and Professor of Anatomy. His laboratory develops approaches for preventing, stopping, or reversing disease-related changes in lymphatics and blood vessels. Among other things, he is interested in the effects of growing or destroying blood vessels in the lung or in tumors and the effects on tumor growth, invasion, and metastasis. He has published more than 250 peer-reviewed articles on the topic.

Mariano Barbacid, Ph.D.

Dr. Mariano Barbacid leads a research group focusing on identifying novel therapeutic strategies again K-RAS mutant tumors. Before that, he was the Director of the Spanish National Cancer Research Center in Madrid, Spain. Previously, Dr. Barbacid was at Bristol Myers-Squibb for 10 years in various roles, including Vice President of Oncology Drug Discovery, and pioneered the development of targeted therapies. Prior to that, he led his own research group at the NIH where his work, along with that of the Weinberg and Wigler laboratories, led to the isolation of the first human oncogene (H-Ras) and to the subsequent identification of the first mutation associated with the development of human cancer. To date, Dr. Barbacid has authored 297 publications, including 219 original research articles, and is the recipient of many awards, including the medal of Honor of the International Agency for Cancer Research. He is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and is an elected fellow of the Academy of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Silvia Giordano,MD, PhD

Dr. Silvia Giordano is Full Professor of Histology and Embryology, University of Torino (Italy) and Group Leader at Candiolo Cancer Institute, Candiolo (Torino), Italy. She has longstanding experience in the field of translational oncology. In 1989, she identified and characterized the receptor tyrosine kinase encoded by the MET oncogene and studied the structural and functional alterations of this protein in human tumors. Dr. Giordano holds an M.D. from the University of Torino (Italy) and a Ph.D. from La Sapienza Medical School (Italy).Her current research is aimed at studying the phenomenon of oncogene addiction, the involvement of tyrosine kinase receptors in human tumors, new strategies to target them and the mechanisms of resistance to targeted therapies. In addition, she leads a specialized research program in gastro-esophageal cancer. Dr. Giordano has published more than 100 papers in peer reviewed journals and is a recipient of the Francesco de Luca International Award for physicians in cancer research.

Véronique Orian-Rousseau, PhD

Prof. Dr. Véronique Orian-Rousseau is one of the co-founders of amcure and Professor of Genetics at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Her research concentrates on the role of cell adhesion molecules in tumor progression and metastasis, with a focus on pancreatic and breast cancer. In particular, her group studies the molecular mechanisms of action of CD44 as a co-receptor for Receptor Tyrosine Kinases (RTKs) and G-Protein-coupled Receptors in carcinogenesis. Her group demonstrated the involvement of CD44v6 in RTK activation and signaling and has identified CD44v6 peptides inhibiting the RTKs c-Met and VEGFR2. Dr. Orian Rousseau obtained her Ph.D. at the University of Strasbourg (France). She has authored over 65 publications in peer-reviewed journals.


Dr. Bruno Osterwalder

Dr. Bruno Osterwalder has been a consultant and board member to pharmaceutical companies in drug development with a focus in oncology, hematology and immune-oncology since 2015. He spent 24 years in global drug development and strategic portfolio management in the fields of oncology and immune-oncology at F. Hoffmann-La Roche (VP Clinical Development) and Merck Serono (Senior VP & Senior Strategic Advisor of Oncology). He was actively involved in the development and successful worldwide registration of several oncology compounds. His specific experience includes the transition from preclinical to clinical development, the combined development of companion diagnostics and therapeutic drugs in the context of targeted therapies and personalized medicine. Dr. Osterwalder is a board-certified hematologist and oncologist with a background of 15 years of academic and clinical practice in internal medicine, hematology and oncology (Swiss Board Certifications).

Heinz Schwer, PhD, MBA

Heinz Schwer, PhD, MBA, is currently Managing Director at EMBL Ventures GmbH. He has 17 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, including as CEO of ViraTherapeutics, Lantio Pharma, and founder and CEO of Sloning Biotechnology. He was also Senior Director at MorphoSys, where he served as a strategic technology advisor and head of the company’s corporate venture business. Dr. Schwer has broad experience in preclinical and clinical development, business development, and corporate finance. He holds a PhD from the University of Regensburg, Germany and an MBA from Henley Management College, UK.


Amcure is supported by a consortium of institutional and private investors and has attracted a total of EUR11 million from two financing rounds.

amcure is sponsored by a grant from the German Ministry of Education and Research
Short description: Development of a novel compound for the treatment of metastasizing cancers
Support code: 031B0052