A Centre for Translational Research and Personalised Medicine is currently emerging at the Faculty of Medicine in Mannheim, University of Heidelberg. The new centre is expected to boost the development of new therapies in cooperation with partners from Germany and abroad. The centre also works closely with the “French-German Advanced Translational Drug Discovery Center”, a unique, large-scale, cross-border research cooperation between French and German researchers.
“Translational research” refers to the direct transfer of knowledge from basic research into clinical research and ultimately into new therapies for the benefit of patients. “Personalised medicine” is the customisation of healthcare, where treatment is tailored to the individual patient or group of patients based on their disease characteristics, particularly genetic ones, determined using specific markers. This spares the patient ineffective therapies and helps reduce adverse drug effects. The concept of personalised medicine has already achieved important success in the treatment of cancer. However, progress has also been made in the personalised treatment of cardiovascular diseases, type II diabetes and psychological disorders and there is hope that new improved treatment will in future also become available for these complex diseases.
The Mannheim Medical Faculty at the University of Heidelberg has established a centre aimed at investigating and developing new, targeted therapeutic approaches. The centre is designed as a platform that pools research projects across different disciplines. This translational medicine competence centre located on the campus of the Mannheim University Hospital was named “Heinrich-Lanz Centre for Personalised Medicine” and is funded by the Heinrich-Lanz Foundation in Mannheim.
The Mannheim Medical Faculty hopes that the new centre will contribute to a significant increase in its translational research activities – “from laboratory bench to bedside”. Prof. Dr. Dr. Uwe Bicker, Dean of the Medical Faculty, highlighted that the first projects – projects to be carried out by researchers from the Medical Faculty and the Central Institute for Mental Health - are already “in the starting blocks”. The Heinrich-Lanz Centre was established with the aim of supporting scientists of the Medical Faculty and Mannheim University in initiating, coordinating and carrying out interdisciplinary research cooperations with institutions from Germany and abroad.
Along with the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the Heinrich-Lanz Centre will work in partnership with a unique, cross-border research cooperation, the “French-German Advanced Translational Drug Discovery Center” (FGATC). On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Elysée Treaty, which solemnly sealed the friendship between France and the Federal Republic of Germany, German Federal Research Minister Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka and her French colleague Geneviève Fioraso opened the French-German Week of the Sciences (“La Semaine Franco-Allemande de la Science et des Alumni”) at the same location in April 2013. They announced seven large-scale transnational collaborations, including the FGATC, a French-German public-private partnership. In the presence of the two ministers, Prof. Bühler and Prof. Otmar Wiestler signed the memorandum on behalf of the Heinrich-Lanz Centre and the DKFZ, respectively. The document was also signed by the president of the University of Strasbourg, the chairman of INSERM (Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale) and the president of Global Research & Development at the pharma giant Sanofi which operates a large research and development centre in Strasbourg.
The partnership connects outstanding research institutions in the Upper Rhine Valley on either side of the French-German border in the spirit of a united Europe that began with the signing of the Elysée Treaty in 1963. As the name FGATC suggests, the research cooperation is specifically aimed at the discovery of active ingredients and the development of drugs that can be used for advanced, customised therapies. The participation of a global pharmaceutical company brings to the French-German public-private partnership the expertise and resources required to develop successful drug candidates into marketable medicines. Together with the University of Strasbourg, Sanofi also brings to the new drug discovery centre new drug screening methods on the basis of new in-vitro imaging methods for use in basic research. The Heinrich-Lanz Centre and the DKFZ will transfer the scientific research mainly into translational and clinical research. Conversely, clinical research findings will flow back into basic research, i.e. from the bedside to the laboratory bench.