Biobanks are of key importance for biomedical research and for improving diagnostics and therapies involving new biomarkers. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is funding the National Biobank Initiative with a total of around 18 million euros. The initiative aims to standardize and combine the resources of five model locations, including the BioMaterialBank Heidelberg which integrates the tissue bank of the National Centre for Tumour Diseases (NCT).
All the cells in an organism have to adapt to changing requirements as they develop and grow - including muscle cells in the heart. Crucial to this process are the cells’ growth in size and epigenetic factors that play a role in modulating the expression of various genes. The role of epigenetics in cancer development has been the focus of research for quite some time. The question is, what role do epigenetic factors play in the development of the heart? Prof. Dr. Lutz Hein from the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Freiburg studies the maturation of cardiac muscle cells and the epigenetic programmes involved. One of his goals is to better understand cardiac diseases.
The European Commission adopted a Communication and a proposal for a Council Recommendation on rare diseases setting out an overall Community strategy to support Member States in diagnosing treating and caring for the 36 million EU citizens with rare diseases.
A team of physicians and scientists from Ulm (Germany) and Iowa City (USA) have shown how the activity of leukaemia cells can be visualised in the body by using a special marker and various different methods. The publication relating to this finding has been awarded the “Editor’s Choice Award” as one of the three best publications in 2008 by the renowned journal “Journal of Nuclear Medicine”.
Premature births are not uncommon in Germany where around seven percent of newborns are born before week 37 of pregnancy. The WHO estimates that the numbers of preterm births are growing due to the increasing age of mothers. Doctors caring for the tiny patients are faced with a dilemma because regular blood samples required for the clinical monitoring of important blood parameters cannot be taken due to the infants low body volume.
Detecting viruses, bacteria or parasites in human, animal, food and environmental samples is routine for the staff of gerbion GmbH & Co. KG. The company has been using virological, microbiological and serological methods for many years, but is now also using cutting-edge molecular biology methods for detecting pathogens. The founders of the Kornwestheim-based diagnostics company have concentrated on own research work and the development of new detection methods and tests right from the word go.
The German Research Foundation (DFG) is set to establish 17 new collaborative research centres (SFBs) on 1st January 2010. Ten of the new SFBs will focus on life science research projects, and will initially be funded for a period of four years with a total of 78 million euros in funding. One of the SFBs will be established at the University of Freiburg. Six of the 17 new SFBs are SFB/Transregio projects involving researchers from several German research institutions, including two SFBs that are to be coordinated by the University of Heidelberg.
immatics biotechnologies GmbH, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing therapeutic vaccines that are active against cancer, today announced the appointment of Dr. Rainer Kramer as Chief Business Officer (CBO) with immediate effect. In this newly created role, Dr. Kramer will lead immatics’ Business Development Unit in order to create optimal value from the Company’s pipeline of therapeutic cancer vaccines.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy DMD is a severe disease affecting boys characterised by rapid progression of muscle degeneration so that boys as young as 10 to 12 years of age have to use a wheelchair and leading to death in young men. In Germany about 2500 children and young adults suffer from DMD.
According to statistics from the European Patent Office a total of 1065 biotechnological patents were filed in 2007 by inventors based in Germany. This puts Germany second behind the USA. In the coming years experts expect that a much larger number of biotech patents will be filed. For life sciences inventors the registration of patents quite often represents a real challenge. People entering the world of patents and licences are faced with a veritable jungle of clauses.
The ability to recognise a pathogen and combat it effectively is certainly one of the most complex and sophisticated processes the human body has evolved. People with an immunodeficiency or autoimmune disease may have a genetic defect in one of the genes involved in the immune response. Working with immunologists from London scientists Desire Schubert and Prof. Dr. Bodo Grimbacher from the Centre for Chronic Immunodeficiency CCI at the Freiburg University Medical Centre discovered that a point mutation in the CTLA4 gene severely impairs the immune system. This is because the CTLA4 mutation affects different types of cells that have key immune defence functions.
Professor Dr. Elisa Izaurralde has made important contributions to the field of RNA biology in recent years. The managing director of the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen explores the complex mechanisms of cellular gene regulation. For her work on mRNA regulation she has now been honored with the prestigious Ernst Jung Prize for Medicine.
Worldwide less than 10000 people suffer from Gauchers disease which is the most common lysosomal storage disease. Genzyme has been offering the drug Cerezyme for the treatment of this rare genetic disease since 1994. The companys subsidiary in Constance markets and sells this enzyme replacement therapy in Europe and Asia. The active substance is produced in Chinese hamster ovary cell cultures.
Most people believe that snakes and insects are the only animals able to shed their skin. However autoimmune diseases of the largest human organ i.e. the skin can have a similar effect by creating blisters scars peeling and wet wounds. Dr. Cassian Sitaru from the University of Freiburg Medical Centre specifically focuses on blistering autoimmune dermatoses. Using disease models in Petri dishes and laboratory mice Sitaru and his team hope to find out in more detail how antibodies attack their own organism.
Increasing average longevity, the growing number of chronic diseases and health economy issues are all generating an ever-increasing demand for inexpensive therapy options that are not time- or location dependent. For the past 10 years or so, telemedicine has been offering advanced solutions for a broad range of medical and health issues. Despite this progress, the use of telecommunication and information technologies in the provision of remote healthcare services appears to be stagnating.
GATC Biotech announced today that it has agreed to purchase the PacBio RS platform, a single molecule, real-time (SMRT™) sequencing technology. The new PacBio RS will be the fifth sequencing technology for GATC Biotech. The system is planned for installation in early 2011.
While breast cancer survival has clearly improved in recent years, women with triple-negative breast cancer have benefitted very little from progress in cancer medicine. Targeted therapies aimed at inhibiting epigenetic regulators might offer a potential new option for the treatment of breast cancer. Prof. Dr. Roland Schüle and Dr. Jochen Maurer have discovered an epigenetic enzyme called KDM4 and come up with a new cell model that significantly facilitates the development of new cancer drugs.
The causes of multiple system atrophy MSA a particularly severe form of Parkinsons disease have for a long time remained unknown. Researchers at the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research in Tübingen have now shown that hereditary gene variants considerably increase the risk of contracting MSA.
Three of the four scientists from the University of Ulm who have been awarded the 27th Merckle Research Prize are in the field of life sciences. The prizes, each with a purse of 5,000 euros, were awarded to Richard Schlenk, Bernd Baumann and Dirk Volkmer.
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.
Dr Sven Perner from Tuebingen was recently awarded the newly created Württemberg Cancer Prize for his work that has made decisive contributions to the understanding of prostate cancer development. In addition the identification of a tumour-specific gene fusion might also be of great importance for other types of cancer.