febit holding gmbh announced today the launch of the first human cancer biochip for HybSelectâ, febit’s highly automated technology for sequence capture, enabling targeted Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS). The new catalog cancer biochip features 115 important genes which are reported to be associated with common types of cancer by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
In a collaborative project scientists in Stuttgart and Heidelberg succeeded in cutting the production costs for highly complex peptide arrays by a factor of 100 at the same time as being able to increase the number of functional peptides by a factor of 20.
Nanoscale robots and intelligent measurement systems in arteries, fingernail-sized DNA chips that can be used to analyze thousands of genes in tiny samples, intelligent DNA microsensors – the trend in the life sciences is moving towards miniaturization in all areas including electronics, sensor systems and the handling of liquids. Over the last few years, a research area with growing potential has developed at the interface of physics, the engineering sciences, chemistry, biology and the computer sciences, and is now also going nano.
febit announced the receipt of an EU patent EP 1 728 860B1 for its technology to synthesize minimal genomes. The new patent protects febits technology for combining genes to construct a minimal functional genome or parts of it. The EU patent complements earlier patents on the synthesis of oligonucleotides for gene-assembling.
Researchers from the Stuttgart-based Max Planck Institute of Solid State Research have succeeded in detecting tiny traces of DNA using sensors made from carbon nanotubes. The sensors are highly selective for specific DNA sequences and it is envisaged that they will be used for the rapid examination of blood samples.
The Max Planck Society (MPG) is going to transfer its know-how in neurochip technology to Reutlingen. The Reutlingen-based NMI and its partners are set to develop the technology into a versatile product and measurement tool.
PEPperPRINT GmbH, a spin-off of the German Cancer Research Centre, has won the Science4Life Venture Cup, a German start-up contest that comes with the most prize money. The Heidelberg-based start-up company was previously awarded the renowned research prize by the German Stifterverband and was chosen as a “Landmark in the Land of Ideas” competition run by the German government in 2009.
Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and epilepsy are three prominent examples of neuronal conditions (disorders affecting the nerve cells) for which drugs for treatment are intensively sought. Paolo Cesare from the NMI in Reutlingen has developed an innovative 3D system for testing drugs that does not require animal testing. In 2015, the MEAFLUIT system was awarded first prize in BioRegio STERN Management GmbH's Science2Start idea competition.
The experts at Freiburg-based BioFluidix GmbH specialise in what is known as microfluidics. The company offers solutions for the non-contact dispensing of liquids in the range of a few nanolitres up to several microlitres. These microfluidic devices are used for lab-on-the-chip applications that integrate one or several laboratory steps on a single chip. BioFluidix GmbH a spin-off of the University of Freiburg and member of the MicroTEC Südwest cluster is developing the next generation of accurate dosage systems for use in research and industry.
Does the patient have blood poisoning? In order to find out, the doctor takes a blood sample and sends it to a central laboratory for testing. Valuable time is lost, which could cost the patient his or her life. In future, doctors will be able to analyse blood in their surgery and results will be available within twenty minutes. This is made possible by a biochip developed by scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM in Freiburg.
The physicist Prof. Dr. Paul Leiderer and his team are investigating the adhesive forces between nanoparticles and a variety of different surfaces in the search for innovative methods to remove them. As the researcher reports in an interview with BIOPRO his team particularly focuses on the optical electrical and mechanical properties of these nanoparticles.
Scientists from the Medical Research Centre in Mannheim led by Prof. Gretz have developed an optoelectronic measuring device for the non-invasive assessment of renal function. The device, which can be applied to the skin like tape, is a technology platform that can be further developed for application in other fields.
The KITChip developed by researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology KIT improves the three-dimensional self-organisation of cells by enabling the active flow and circulation of the cell culture media. Using smart microtechnical methods the scientists are able to adapt the microenvironment of cell types to their specific requirements which leads to specific cellular behaviour and development.
In the near future, Next-Generation Sequencing technologies will lead to a rising number of completed genomes of model organisms and other species of interest, as demonstrated by the updated mouse genome. This accelerated development will generate a variety of tools available in the short term for the application of the new data into experiments. febit’s technology enables the conversion of new sequence data into biochips for gene expression profiling and sequence capture for Next-Generation Sequencing within days.
“Around one third of all visual prosthesis research in Germany is done by the Institute of Microelectronics at Ulm University,” said Maurits Ortmanns, a young electrical engineer who has been head of the Institute of Microelectronics since 2008. He is responsible for half of this figure and his colleague Albrecht Rothermel for the other half. The two engineers work for two German manufacturers who are developing competing versions of retinal implants. The two approaches have already been tested in clinical trials.
Small RNAs are gaining in importance in research as well as in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. However the potential of these molecules can only be exploited fully if very pure RNAs can be extracted from the cells in sufficiently high quantities. Currently used methods are expensive and only designed for large cell quantities. In addition the operation of the extraction systems is very complicated. A new biochip developed by Dr. Paul Vulto at the Institute of Microsystems Engineering in Freiburg is able to extract RNAs from cells in a radically different way. His method is already being used by a pharmaceutical company.
Frank Breitling and Alexander Nesterov-Müller from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology KIT are working on the development of a second-generation peptide laser printer and a peptide chip printer based on computer chips. This development will enable the low-cost production of high-density peptide arrays consisting of up to one million peptides as well as opening up completely new areas of application.
Researchers led by Prof. Dr. Jan C. Behrends and Dr. Gerhard Baaken from the University of Freiburg have developed a chip the size of a fingertip containing biological nanopores that determine molecule mass with great precision. Developing this new system which is a combination of biological and micro-technical components involved a great deal of technical skill. The system has the same level of sensitivity as a chromatography device but is much easier to handle and is also cheaper than the large devices. The chip has also the potential to be used for sequencing genes and for analysing other molecule classes.
The junior researchers Dr. Daniel Geiger, Tobias Neckernuß and Jonas Pfeil from Ulm have developed an innovative method for non-contact real-time analysis of cells and other particles. The analysis involves low data rates and correspondingly little effort. This is what makes the method so attractive for medical applications.
In the second article in the series on the platforms successful cooperations BioValley presents an encouraging approach for improving the quality of life of severely ill cancer patients and the successful establishment of an industrial biochip platform.
Cells have their own language that they use to communicate with each other. They need this language to be able to form intact tissues and fulfil their specific functions in the body. If these signalling pathways are disrupted, metabolic processes will suffer and result in diseases. We know many “words” of the cellular language, i.e. signalling molecules that bind to specific surface receptors and thereby trigger chemical reactions inside the cell. But we do not know how these “words” are combined in “sentences” nor do we understand the underlying “grammar”. Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have developed a method to decode the grammar of cell signals.
Although the methods used to carry out amniocentesis are quite sophisticated, there is still a 0.5 percent risk of miscarriage following the intervention. Therefore, an EU-funded project called AngeLab is developing a rapid test that only requires a blood sample of the mother rather than amniotic fluid. The test yields information on the genetic health of the foetus within only a few hours. As part of the project, researchers from the Hahn-Schickard site in Freiburg have developed an innovative droplet PCR system.
In cooperation with industrial partners, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart have spent many years developing innovative diagnostic tools for use in infection biology. Among these are microsystems that combine complete test procedures on a “lab-on-a-chip” (LOC) and enable simultaneous analysis of several thousand parameters relatively quickly and with little effort. The scientists hope that these systems will soon be ready for application in routine diagnostics.
Optical screening methods are of huge importance for a broad range of analytical issues. Fluorescence-based methods are highly significant for their high sensitivity amongst other things. Important technological developments have focused for example on reducing sample volumes increasing sample throughput high-throughput screening HTC or on information content high-content screening HCS. With regard to screening methods the ILM is currently focusing on the further development of 1 a particle-based method for bioanalytical applications and 2 a method based on microtitre plates for the selective investigation of cellular surfaces.