Many different imaging methods are available these days and are used in almost all medical disciplines to visualise disease-related changes. Depending on the problem and the clinical picture, very different structural and functional parameters can be visually recorded for diagnosis and used for therapy.
The Karlsruhe-based start-up medicalvalues GmbH wants to use its platform to bring together different clinical data sets and thus enable comprehensive medical diagnostics. Artificial intelligence featuring innovative diagnostic algorithms is used to evaluate the data and generate new insights for laboratories and hospitals.
Rapid progress in sequencing technologies is poised to set the imagination of biomedical researchers on fire. Experts now believe that progress is about to make possible what seemed to be utopian a few years ago – it seems likely that it will soon be possible to sequence the human genome in only a few minutes and store and automatically analyse it using tiny automates. However, is everything that is technically feasible also reasonable?
To diagnose an infection with the coronavirus, usually a throat swab is taken and genetic viral material detected by using a highly sensitive PCR. To date, more than 65 million of these tests have been performed in Germany alone. Due to the massive increase in testing worldwide and simultaneous loss of production, there was a significant shortage of test materials in the early stage of the pandemic.
In the 2022 allocation round for the award of the prestigious Consolidator Grants of the European Research Council, researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have been successful. For their projects in the fields of photovoltaics and medical sensor technology, physicist Ulrich W. Paetzold and chemist Frank Biedermann will receive approximately two million euros over the next five years.
Tissue cells are needed for medical diagnostics, cell therapies and tissue engineering, among other things. A novel tissue grinder gently and automatically dissociates cells from tissue. In November 2020, the newly founded biotech company Fast Forward Discoveries GmbH (FFX) delivered its first tissue grinders to customers.
"The early bird catches the worm", is an apt description of what motivates Hummingbird Diagnostics GmbH from Heidelberg. The medium-sized biotechnology company analyses special biomarkers in blood, so-called microRNAs, in order to diagnose diseases at an early stage and to be able to make forecasts about the course of the disease and the success of therapy.
Dermagnostix GmbH has developed a rapid test to differentiate between psoriasis and eczema. This test is currently undergoing preclinical testing, with market launch planned for 2023. The start-up is already working on two other dermatological tests. Centrifugal microfluidics is the name of the technology on which the tests are based.
Modern healthcare would be impossible without medical technology. The achievements in medical technology are indispensable for our health and quality of life. The range of medical technology available covers surgical instruments and implants to diagnostic methods and medical devices.
The societal importance of genetic technologies was demonstrated during the coronavirus pandemic, when it was possible to rapidly develop suitable vaccines thanks to genetic engineering methods. As a result, the Fifth Gene Technology Report published in autumn 2021 reads like a validation of many years of work, as well as making it clear that the will to continue the detailed long-term monitoring is very much present.
Every tumour and every patient is different, and there are individual reactions to drugs as well as the problem of resistance. Patient-specific cancer treatments require innovative and cost-effective approaches. The TheraMe! consortium has developed a novel instrument: a combination of microfluidic experiments and mathematical modelling for use in cancer precision medicine to prevent incorrect therapy options.
A new study published in Nature Medicine, July 2023 has identified two novel markers for screening high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL), a precursor to anal cancer, from the anal microbiome of people with HIV (PWH). PWH are at a significantly higher risk of developing anal cancer. Current screening methods, such as anal cytology, have low specificity for detecting HSIL, which hinders the prevention of anal cancer.
Peptides are increasingly coming into scientific focus for application in diagnostics and therapy. The human body is full of these protein fragments, but only a fraction have been characterised. So there is enormous potential for discovering new biologically active substances that can help in the fight against bacteria, viruses and cancer. A collaborative research centre at Ulm University Hospital is on the trail of these promising fragments.
Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers and has a particularly high mortality rate. A significant challenge in treating this disease lies in the resistance of lung tumours to conventional drug therapies, rendering chemotherapy ineffective. There is hope on the horizon as a team of experts from Baden-Württemberg has joined forces to develop an innovative AI-supported test procedure that paves the way for individualised therapy approaches.
The new Center for Bionic Intelligence Tübingen Stuttgart aims to optimize the interaction between humans and technical systems in a fundamentally new way. Scientists from the Universities of Stuttgart and Tübingen, the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems and the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics are conducting research on intelligent bionic systems that will aid understanding and treatment of certain diseases of the CNS.
Intelligent Diagnostics is an interdisciplinary project that brings together the latest technologies and research institutes to better support doctors in diagnosing skin cancer through innovative imaging and artificial intelligence.
Microrobots have the potential to revolutionize medicine. Researchers at the Max Planck ETH Centre for Learning Systems have now developed an imaging technique that for the first time recognises cell-sized microrobots individually and at high resolution in a living organism. This is an important step towards precise control of the robots and their clinical translation.
Spindiag GmbH, together with the University of Freiburg and the Hahn-Schickard-Gesellschaft für angewandte Forschung e.V., was awarded the Technology Transfer Prize 2020 from the German Physical Society (DPG) on April 09, 2022 for the development of the PCR-based rapid test system Rhonda.
Diagnosing suitable biomarkers is a prerequisite for tailoring personalised therapies to patient heterogeneity. Genetic tests and genome sequencing play a key role in these diagnoses. Up until now, personalised therapy has achieved the greatest success in the field of oncology. However, personalised treatments are also gaining in importance for treating other diseases.
Neuropsychiatric disorders are often diagnosed late and have a negative impact on quality of life. Diagnosing the disease at an early stage is vital to be able to help those affected by offering them treatment adapted to their specific requirements. This is what the TuCAN project in Tübingen aims to achieve through the early and differential diagnosis of neuropsychiatric disorders.
The AutoProNano German/French collaborative project involves developing a process for the automated production of nanoparticles for in vitro and in vivo diagnostics. The project is being launched within the smart analytics cooperation network. This international initiative has been funded by the Central Innovation Programme for SMEs (ZIM) of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) since May 2020.
The start-up company Cytolytics from Tübingen has developed a robust and user-friendly software platform that uses machine learning for the automated analysis of cells. This is beneficial in areas such as cancer diagnostics and the development of new pharmaceutically active substances.
A pill camera to examine the gastrointestinal tract that can be swallowed without major difficulty, controlled intuitively from the outside and deliver images in real time - why would any doctor or patient say no? To non-experts, it sounds more like science fiction but such a device is actually already in development: since 2019, Tübingen-based Ovesco Endoscopy AG and three partners have been working together on this in a project called nuEndo.
The computational design of new proteins for biomedical or other applications involves long computing times on powerful servers. A joint team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Biology Tübingen and the University Hospital Tübingen has now developed and tested a new computational method to greatly speed up the necessary energy calculations. Their framework allows for a precise and efficient design of functional proteins.
Women have an increased risk of breast cancer if they have a family history of this disease. However, the risk may also be higher if first-degree family members have another type of cancer, according to a study by a team of scientists and physicians from the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and Heidelberg University Hospital (UKHD), as well as international colleagues.
Current diagnostic methods do not always reliably distinguish between chronic inflammation of the pancreas and pancreatic cancer. About one third of all diagnoses are inconclusive. Scientists from the German Cancer Research (DKFZ) and from Heidelberg University Hospital (UKHD) therefore searched for molecular markers that could specify this diagnosis.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), will soon publish the first edition of its classification of childhood cancers. The new WHO classification forms the basis of modern, precise cancer diagnostics for physicians and pediatric oncologists worldwide and is based on the latest international research findings.
Changes known as epigenetic modifications play an important role in cancer development, among other things. Being able to analyze them quickly and reliably could, for example, contribute significantly to the further development of personalized therapy.
Modern medicine has a wide range of molecular diagnostics at hand. In the next decade, this will increasingly be supplemented by prognostic methods. The BMBF Cluster of the Future finalist, nanodiag BW, is developing prognostic methods to identify epigenetic factors for diseases through a new type of bioanalytics – single molecule analysis in nanopores – which would make it possible to take personalised prevention approaches.
Tuberculosis is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, with an estimated 1.4 million deaths and ten million people infected annually. Resistant and multidrug-resistant (MDR) variants of the tuberculosis pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis pose a major threat to tuberculosis control and global health.
Using a low-level radiopharmaceutical that binds to the prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA), positron emission tomography/computed tomography can be used to visualise even small prostate cancer metastases. Developed by Heidelberg researchers, the radiopharmaceutical is a modified radionuclide diagnostic agent that has been coupled with a powerful emitter and used as a therapeutic tracer to irradiate and destroy cancer cells from within.
An international research team involving the universities of Paraná and Tübingen has developed a rapid test that can reliably identify Covid-19 antibodies in the blood within minutes. As the researchers report in the journal ACS Sensors, the new process is based on a simple measuring principle making it easy to carry out without expensive instruments, and is therefore suitable for use at mobile testing centers or by laboratories.
The CRISPR-Cas gene-editing technology is one of the most important developments in molecular biology in recent years. It utilises molecular scissors with which nucleic acids can be cut and edited almost arbitrarily. Researchers in Freiburg, Germany have now successfully used the technology for diagnostic purposes. They are currently working intensively on expanding the system to enable it to detect genome sequences of the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases are associated with inflammatory processes in the brain. German researchers have succeeded in identifying a group of proteins in the liquor that could provide information about such inflammatory processes. As so-called biomarkers, the proteins could help to better understand disease processes in the future and to test the effect of potential drugs against brain inflammation.
An international study with about 3000 patients confirms the validity of a new classification system for meningiomas. It combines tissue characteristics (histology) with molecular analyses and thus improves therapy planning.
Heidelberg University is to acquire a research building to develop innovative engineering science strategies and technologies on the basis of life-inspired molecular systems. The German Science and Humanities Council has now expressed its backing for the idea with an outstanding rating. This recommendation is the crucial precondition for a new building on the university campus Im Neuenheimer Feld.
Parkinson's disease is characterised by a slow, progressive loss of nerve cells in certain brain areas. The disease is still incurable and the exact causes are unclear. The dopamine deficiency in the brain can only be controlled to some extent in the initial phase of the disease. Basic research is being conducted in an attempt to unravel the mystery of Parkinson's disease.
Proteins have characteristic amino acid sequences, the analysis of which is fundamental for research and medicine. These can be decoded; however, so-called protein sequencing is expensive and time-consuming. A large-scale research project led by Prof. Dr. Jan Behrends from the Institute of Physiology at the University of Freiburg now aims to establish a new technology for protein sequencing using nanopores, which will be rapid and cost-effective.
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.
More than one billion people worldwide suffer from neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). NTDs are mostly poverty-related infectious diseases that prevail in tropical countries due to lack of research and measures to detect, prevent and control them. Dr. Dr. Carsten Köhler reports on the political, economic and scientific contributions Germany and Baden-Württemberg can make to successfully change this situation.
Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute have developed an AI system that recognizes and characterizes white and red blood cells in microscopic images of blood samples. The algorithm can help physicians diagnose blood disorders and is available as an open source method for research purposes.
The Deep-Tech Start-Up memetis GmbH from Germany, which produces the world’s most compact and lightest commercially available valves driven by shape memory alloys, announces a new partnership with Fluid-o-Tech S.r.l., an Italian innovation and market leader in the field of fluid-pumps.
Personalized medicine, medical technology, digital health and artificial intelligence are revolutionizing diagnostics and product development. Analyses are becoming faster and more precise, and data volumes can now be networked and used effectively. The goal of improving people's quality of life is within reach, and this will also strengthen Germany’s future viability. However, not every good idea can be turned into a marketable commodity.…
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