Cancer is usually not curable when metastases have formed in the body. Metastases are often resistant to drugs that have successfully eliminated the primary tumour. The basic features of the complex process of metastasis are now known, but many details still remain elusive. Intensive research activities are focusing on new therapeutic concepts aimed at developing effective anti-metastatic therapies.
Liquid biopsy, the analysis of cancer biomarkers and circulating tumour cells in body fluids such as blood, is revolutionising the diagnosis and monitoring of cancer. It has also been possible to expand circulating tumour cells from the blood under laboratory conditions. It is expected that in the future, liquid biopsy will be able to precisely characterise tumour cells at every stage of a cancer.
Breast cancer is characterised by broad genetic diversity. Successful treatment is made even more difficult by the fact that, in advanced breast cancer, the properties of metastases often differ significantly from the primary tumour. The Heidelberg CATCH study is now collecting genetic profiles from patients' metastasis tissue samples, which can be used to tailor therapy to individual requirements. If necessary, therapy can subsequently be adapted to an even greater extent. The study aims to improve control rates in advanced metastatic breast cancer, delay disease progression and reduce the risk of side effects.
Almost all humans are infected with Epstein-Barr viruses (EBV), which are linked to the development of benign diseases such as infectious mononucleosis as well as several cancers. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center have developed a new strategy for creating a vaccine that targets different EBV virus life phases and has the potential to provide effective protection against EBV infection.
Industry has been using enzymes for over a hundred years. While it initially had to content itself with natural enzymes, it is now increasingly possible to design tailor-made biocatalysts with specific properties. The start-up company candidum GmbH from Stuttgart promises to achieve this faster than ever before - mostly thanks to accelerated virtual screening.
Completely new possibilities for research and gene therapy became available following the development of the CRISPR/Cas method for targeted modification of the genome. However, treatment with these molecular scissors is not without risk as potential errors are stored in the genome forever. Scientists from Tübingen have developed an alternative method in which the intervention takes place at the RNA level using the body's own enzymes and is thus reversible. A paper describing the application of CRISPR/Cas to repair a genetic defect in human body cells has just been published.
In the new gene technology report, the interdisciplinary working group of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences (BBAW) takes stock of gene technology developments in Germany during the past few decades, and discusses the societal, legal and ethical challenges associated with these technologies in the future. The report is highly topical due to the controversy surrounding the ruling of the European Court of Justice on CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing and reports that the first children whose DNA has been altered using gene editing have been born in China.
One year after its seed financing, SpinDiag GmbH closes a second financing round of EUR 3 million (USD 3.4 million) as planned. The financing will enable SpinDiag to complete the product development of its first product for screening for antibiotic-resistant bacteria and to start clinical trials. This will pave the way for regulatory approval in the EU.
For quite a number of illnesses, patients need to have the concentrations of the medications they are taking and their blood metabolites checked on a regular basis, which can make life rather difficult. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg have now developed a test based on the firefly enzyme luciferase. This enzyme can be used to quickly and cheaply measure parameters of interest in any doctor's surgery or even at home with just one drop of blood on a strip of paper.
For almost 125 years, undertakers as well as physicians in the fields of anatomy and pathology have used formaldehyde to preserve biological tissue and whole cadavers. Yet, formaldehyde is highly toxic and linked to cancer. A team led by Prof. Dr. Bernhard Hirt from the Institute of Clinical Anatomy and Cell Analysis at the University Hospital in Tübingen has developed a formaldehyde-free replacement substance. The researchers are now planning to market this substance.
Artificial intelligence is currently one of the most innovative issues, but also one of the most controversial research areas. It already has a firm footing in many areas of our everyday life. Whether it is the automotive industry or online marketing, artificial intelligence is already being used, and often we are not even aware of it. Artificial intelligence has long been an integral part of many processes in research and diagnostics in medicine and the life sciences – and it will be even more widely used in the future.
University takes next hurdle in the German government’s Excellence Strategy funding program. The University of Tübingen is to have three new Clusters of Excellence.As part of the German government’s Excellence Strategy funding forhigher education research, Tübingen will host new outstanding research networks starting in January 2019. Representatives of Germany’s higher education policymakers announced the decision in Bonn on Thursday.