Biotechnology

  • A closer look at brain organoid development

    Cerebral organoid flowchart.

    Heidelberg, 10 March 2017 - How close to reality are brain organoids, and which molecular mechanisms underlie the remarkable self-organizing capacities of tissues? Researchers already have succeeded in growing so-called “cerebral organoids” in a dish - clusters of cells that self-organize into small brain-like structures. Juergen Knoblich and colleagues have now further characterized these organoids and publish their results today in The EMBO Journal. They demonstrate that, like in the human brain, so-called forebrain organizing centers orchestrate developmental processes in the organoid, and that organoids recapitulate the timing of neuronal differentiation events found in human brains.

  • ACHEMA 2018 – Call for Papers for Congress and PRAXISforums

    ACHEMA 2018 - World Forum of the Process Industry

    Contributions to the congress program and PRAXISforums of ACHEMA 2018 can be submitted as of now. Scientists from industry and research institutions are invited to submit their papers until September 22, 2017 via internet (http://www.achema.de/congress). About 800 presentations at ACHEMA from June 11-15, 2018 in Frankfurt / Germany will showcase results from application-oriented basic research through to applied research and development.

    The ACHEMA-Congress comprises the complete spectrum of chemical and process engineering as well as biotechnology themes. The topics range from analytics, energy supply, process design, reaction technology through to safety.

  • Aerogels - the world's lightest solids: International project meeting of NanoHybrids at TUHH

    Aerogel illustration.

    Project meeting of the NanoHybrids EU project on 15 and 16 May 2017 – an important milestone

    The EU research project NanoHybrids, uniting well-known partners from European research and industry, can report its first successes: New methods have been developed for manufacturing organic and hybrid aerogels and they have already been used to produce initial small quantities of organic aerogels. Industry and research partners have cooperated closely to achieve this. Thus significant milestones have already been achieved just 18 months into the EU project.

  • Building better brains: A bioengineered upgrade for organoids

    Bioengineered organoids or so called enCORs are supported by a floating scaffold of PLGA-fiber microfilaments.

    Scientists for the first time combine organoids with bioengineering. Using small microfilaments, they show improved tissue architecture that mimics human brain development more accurately and allows more targeted studies of brain development and its malfunctions, as reported in the current issue of Nature Biotechnology. A few years ago, Jürgen Knoblich and his team at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IMBA) have pioneered brain organoid technology. They developed a method for cultivating three-dimensional brain-like structures, so called cerebral organoids, in a dish. This discovery has tremendous potential as it could revolutionize drug discovery and disease research.

  • Business Model Innovation Opportunities for the Biopharmaceutical Industry

    Having spent the majority of my career to date in the biopharmaceutical industry across multiple roles spanning from sales and sales management to commercializing university basic research, I am curious about the possibility of developing a “better” business model. That is, I am interested in exploring the opportunities to bring life changing therapies to market less expensively and in less time than it typically takes.

    A business model that is built for an external focus will become increasing important as technological complexity increases.

    Having spent the majority of my career to date in the biopharmaceutical industry across multiple roles spanning from sales and sales management to commercializing university basic research, I am curious about the possibility of developing a “better” business model. That is, I am interested in exploring the opportunities to bring life changing therapies to market less expensively and in less time than it typically takes.

  • Cebit 2017: Computational Biologists Predict Antibiotic Resistances Using Biotech

    Time-consuming: Bacteria have to be cultivated in nutrient media in order to detect resistances. Special tests and gene data are designed to provide faster and more reliable results.  Curetis

    Every year, some 25,000 people die in the European Union from antibiotic-resistant, hard to treat bacteria. Although there are diagnostic methods in place to recognize such resistances in advance, these are typically very time-consuming. Researchers from the Center for Bioinformatics at Saarland University, in cooperation with the molecular diagnostics company Curetis, are developing techniques to uncover these dangerous resistances a lot faster. Their secret weapons: a comprehensive gene database, and powerful algorithms. The researchers will be presenting their rapid test procedures, and their outlook for the future, at Stand E28 at the Cebit computer trade show in Hannover, Germany.

  • Cholesterol important for signal transmission in cells

    CXCR4 receptor which belongs to a group known as G protein-coupled receptors. FAU/Rainer Böckmann

    Cholesterol can bind important molecules into pairs, enabling human cells to react to external signals. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg’s (FAU) Chair of Biotechnology have studied these processes in more detail using computer simulations. Their findings have now been published in the latest volume of the journal PLOS Computational Biology*. FAU researchers Kristyna Pluhackova and Stefan Gahbauer discovered that cholesterol strongly influences signal transmission in the body. Their study focused on the chemokine receptor CXCR4, which belong to a group known as G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). These receptors sense external stimuli such as light, hormones or sugar and pass these signals on to the interior of the cell which reacts to them. CXCR4 normally supports the human immune system. However, it also plays an important role in the formation of metastases and the penetration of HIV into the cell interior.

  • Coupled Proteins

    The image portrays which G-proteins bind to particular G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) and in turn how these are related to signalling events. © Thomas Splettstoesser (www.sci-style.com)

    Researchers from Heidelberg University and Sendai University in Japan used new biotechnological methods to study how human cells react to and further process external signals. They focussed on the interaction between so-called G-proteins – the “mediators” of signal transmission – and the receptors known as GPCRs, which trigger signal processes.

  • Engineered heart muscle for the treatment of heart failure

    Cardiac Muscle.

    MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between Georg-August-Universität Göttingen Stiftung Öffentlichen Rechts, Universitätsmedizin (UMG) and the biotech company Repairon GmbH about commercial production and use of engineered human myocardium for heart failure repair. The production methods are based on the scientific work from the group of Prof. Dr. Wolfram-Hubertus Zimmermann, Director of the Institute for Pharmacology and Toxicology at the UMG.

  • Faster diagnosis of sepsis pathogens

    High-throughput sequencing of sepsis pathogens at Fraunhofer IGB. Fraunhofer IGB

    Microbial pathogens can be diagnosed unambiguously and within just 24 hours by means of high-throughput sequencing of their genetic makeup and special bioinformatics evaluation algorithms. Fraunhofer researchers have validated this in a clinical study with sepsis patients. The researchers present the NGS diagnosis platform at Medica in Düsseldorf from November 14–17, 2016. It is estimated that in Germany alone around 150,000 people fall ill with sepsis every year; despite medical advances, between 30 and 50 percent of the patients still die of the consequences. One of the reasons for the high mortality rate: the diagnosis often comes too late for the lifesaving therapy with antibiotics that only combat the specific causative pathogen.

  • Innovatives enzymatisches Verfahren zur Semisynthese von Taxanen

    Prinzip des Enzym-Membran-Kontaktors

    Das wissenschaftliche Ziel eines erfolgreich abgeschlossenen Projektes war die Entwicklung eines innovativen und nachhaltigen biotechnologischen Verfahrens zur Synthese des therapeutischen Wirkstoffs Taxol® und weiterer, an der Seitenkette modifizierter Taxane. Das technische Ziel dieses Projektes war die Entwicklung eines Membran-Kontaktors, welcher zur Synthese und in-situ Extrakti-on der Reaktionsprodukte genutzt wurde.

  • Insects Supply Chitin as a Raw Material for the Textile Industry

    After pupae shed their skin, pupal exuviae remain as residual stream. Fraunhofer IGB

    Harmful chemicals are often used in textile processing. That is why the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB is researching harmless biobased alternatives. The Institute is working on utilizing side streams from the animal feed manufacture for the production of chitosan.

  • MIKE macht Biogasanlagen effizienter: Neues BMBF-Projekt zur stofflichen Nutzung von CO2 gestartet

    DECHEMA Forschungsinstitut

    Höhere Biogasausbeute, keine aufwändige CO2-Abtrennung und Überschussstrom wird sinnvoll genutzt: Das alles soll MIKE leisten, das BMBF-Projekt „Methanisierung von CO2 aus Biogas mittels mikrobieller Elektrosynthese“, das seit dem 1. September 2016 läuft. Koordinator des Projektes ist Dr.-Ing. Dirk Holtmann vom DECHEMA Forschungsinstitut. In Kooperation mit der ifn FTZ GmbH in Elsteraue, der Infraserv GmbH & Co. Höchst KG sowie der Provadis School of International Management and Technology soll ein elektrobiotechnologisches Verfahren zur Umsetzung des CO2 entwickelt werden.

  • Monsanto takeover: Bayer is buying the US American seed company in $66 billion deal

    Bayer is buying Monsanto. © Nanobay

    According to the German weekly news magazine “Stern” Bayer agrees to buy the US American seed company Monsanto. It is the largest company takeover by a Germany-based group.

  • Nanotechnologie in Europa stärken

    Schema der Elektronenstrahl-induzierten Abscheidung.

    Wissenschaftler der Universitäten Bremen, Bielefeld und Erlangen-Nürnberg beteiligen sich an einem multinationalen EU-Projekt zur Nanotechnologie. Nanotechnologie gilt als die Technologie des 21. Jahrhunderts. Sie liefert die Grundlagen, um Produkte von nur wenigen Nanometern Größe in jeder gewünschten Form herzustellen: für Mikroprozessoren, elektronische Schaltungen in Computern und in der Telekommunikation, in der Medizin und in der Biotechnologie, um nur einige Einsatzfelder zu nennen. Die wirtschaftliche Bedeutung der Nanotechnologie nimmt rasant zu. Vor diesem Hintergrund fördert die Europäische Kommission seit kurzem das Marie-Curie Trainings-Netzwerk ELENA (Low energy ELEctron driven chemistry for the advantage of emerging NAnofabrication methods), an dem 13 Universitäten, vier Forschungsinstitute und fünf Unternehmen aus 13 europäischen Ländern beteiligt sind.

  • New weapon against Diabetes

    Diagram of a HEK-beta cell. Graphics: ETH Zurich

    ETH Researchers have used the simplest approach yet to produce artificial beta cells from human kidney cells. Like their natural model, the artificial cells act as both sugar sensors and insulin producers. Researchers led by ETH Professor Martin Fussenegger at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE) in Basel have produced artificial beta cells using a straightforward engineering approach. The artificial beta cells can do everything that natural ones do: they measure the glucose concentration in the blood and produce enough insulin to effectively lower the blood sugar level. The ETH researchers presented their development in the latest edition of the journal Science.

  • Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

    At the start of the project the N2B consortium met at Fraunhofer IGB in Stuttgart. Fraunhofer IGB

    Over the next few years, in a research project funded by the EU, an international consortium is developing a new technology for a better treatment of multiple sclerosis. The idea of the innovative “Nose2Brain” approach is to transport a special active substance directly through the nose into the central nervous system. For this purpose, the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB is working on an active ingredient formulation which is introduced direct into the Regio olfactoria by means of a special applicator and which can release the active ingredient there over a prolonged period of time.

  • Novel method to benchmark and improve the performance of protein measurement techniques

    Analysis of a marine sample of photosynthetic picoplankton by flow cytometry showing three different populations (Prochlorococcus, Synechococcus, and picoeukaryotes)

    Quantum leap in the reliability of mass spectrometry-based proteomics. Modern mass spectrometry systems enable scientists to routinely determine the quantitative composition of cells or tissue samples. However, different analysis software packages often produce different results from the same raw data. An international team of researchers led by Professor Stefan Tenzer from the Mainz University Medical Center has now addressed this problem.

  • Peptides as tags in fluorescence microscopy

    Synapses of brain cells made visible using fluorescence tagging based on antibodies: pre-synapses (red) and post-synapses (green) appear out of focus; the synaptic cleft is not fully resolved. (Picture: Franziska Neubert & Sören Doose)

    Advance in biomedical imaging: The Biocenter of the University of Würzburg in close collaboration with the University of Copenhagen has developed an alternative approach to fluorescent tagging of proteins. The new probes are practicable and compatible with high-resolution microscopic procedures. Fluorescence microscopy visualizes the molecular elements of cells. Proteins of nerve cells, for instance, can be labelled using probes which are subsequently excited with light to fluoresce. In the end, the fluorescence signal is used to generate microscopic images of the real position, arrangement and number of proteins.

  • Pioneering Biologists Create a New Crop Through Genome Editing

    The new cultivated tomato (right) has a variety of domestication features which distinguish it from the wild plant (left). Photo: Agustin Zsögön/Nature Biotechnology

    For the first time, researchers from Brazil, the USA and Germany have created, within a single generation, a new crop from a wild plant – the progenitor of our modern tomato – by using a modern process of genome editing. Starting with a “wild tomato” they have, at the same time, introduced a variety of crop features without losing the valuable genetic properties of the wild plant. Prof. Jörg Kudla from the University of Münster is involved in the study. The results have been published in the current issue of “Nature Biotechnology” (Advance Online Publication).