LIFE SCIENCES! - Research & Development

WHERE GOOD IDEAS GROW

With the Saxonian Incubator for Clinical Translation (SIKT) in Leipzig and the Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden (CRTD), two leading research centers for regenerative medicine are located in Saxony. In addition, three interdisciplinary innovation centers – B CUBE Dresden (molecular bioengineering), ICCAS Leipzig (computer-assisted surgery), and OncoRay Dresden (medical radiation research) – are also active in the region.

Innenansicht, Fraunhofer-Institut für Zelltherapie und Immunologie IZI, Leipzig

Source: Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology (IZI) Leipzig

FROM RESEARCH TO CLINICAL APPLICATIONS

The Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI in Leipzig acts at the interfaces of medicine, life sciences, and engineering sciences. The scientists transfer biomedical research into clinical applications. For example, they are participating in the development of new immuno-oncological therapies in which modified immune cells and antibodies combat cancerous tumors. Currently, they are readying an innovative technology which helps deactivate viruses and other pathogenic agents for mass production. Additional fields of research include neurodegenerative diseases and immune disorders as well as such illnesses as strokes, arthritis, and infections. 

   

Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Zellbiologie und Genetik (MPI-CBG)

Source: MPI-CBG / Jürgen Lösel (DML-BY-NC)

UNVEILING THE SECRETS OF LIFE

How do cells organize themselves into tissues? How are organs formed from these tissues? Why are some animals able to regenerate lost limbs and even organs? About 550 researchers from 41 countries are addressing these questions at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) in Dresden. They are, thus, paving the way towards therapies for such previously incurable diseases as cystic fibrosis. Based on the findings gained at the MPI-CBG, the spin-off Dewpoint Therapeutics started in early 2019 with corporate sites in Boston (USA) and Dresden. Its objective is to find treatment options for the severest ailments. 

   

Forschung am Zentrum für Regenerative Therapien Dresden - CRTD

Source: Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden (CRTD) at Dresden University of Technology

MAKING THE INCURABLE CURABLE

Right in the heart of the BioCampus in Dresden’s Johannstadt district one can find the three institutes of the Center for Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering (CMCB). The focal points of its research range from conducting fundamental to applied research in molecular bioengineering at the BIOTEC and B CUBE all the way to analyzing the basic understanding of stem cell biology and tissue regeneration at the CRTD. Via a central technology platform, the CMCB makes important research facilities accessible to all life scientists at the Dresden University of Technology (TU Dresden) as well as from other institutes and from the biotech industry in Dresden.

  • Cells that renew themselves. Cancer that doesn’t even arise at all: The Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden (CRTD) focuses on the self-healing powers of the body. At the CRTD, top researchers from more than 30 countries investigate the principles of cell and tissue regeneration. Their research activities focus on hematology and immunology, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, and bone regeneration. They want to develop innovative regenerative therapies for treating such previously incurable diseases as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or leukemia. The CRTD links labs and clinics; establishes networks among scientists and physicians. To better understand the processes inside cells and tissues, the researchers are working with model organisms with different regenerative capacities – ranging from zebrafish all the way to mammals.
  • The Biotechnology Center (BIOTEC) at TU Dresden is an interdisciplinary research center that develops innovative technologies driving the progress of modern life sciences in the areas of molecular cell and developmental biology, physical biology, and computational biology. The balance and synergy between technology development and basic research drives the sustained success of basic, applied, and translational research at the BIOTEC. 
  • The B CUBE - Center for Molecular Bioengineering was founded in 2008. The research focus is on the investigation of natural phenomena across scales and translates the ensuing knowledge into innovative materials and technologies thereby building bridges between Life Sciences and Engineering Sciences.

   

Zentrum für Medizinische Strahlenforschung in der Onkologie (OncoRay) an der TU Dresden

Source: University Hospital Dresden (OncoRay) / Christoph Reichelt

COMMITMENT TO FIGHT CANCER

At the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Dresden, patients and researchers are heading in the same direction. Everything revolves around ultramodern cancer drugs and immunotherapies. The NCT builds upon the structures of the University Cancer Center (UCC), and the University Hospital Dresden is just around the corner. This way, cancer patients can be treated in line with the latest scientific findings and achievements directly on site. Since 2020, the center has been home to a research platform which is unique on the entire globe. The platform includes an operating room of the future, state-of-the-art imaging devices, and a radiation unit. Additionally, the NCT/UCC benefits from the National Center for Radiation Research in Oncology “OncoRay,” which is also located at the University Hospital. Here, about 80 physicians, physicists, biologists, and computer scientists from 38 countries are working on individualized proton therapies for every patient. 

   

Prof. Dr. Frank Buchholz – A Scissor Cut with Genes

The molecular biologist Frank Buchholz is the Chair of Medical Systems Biology at the University Hospital Dresden and the Head of Translational Research at the University Cancer Center Dresden (UCC). His work group has developed a method with which it is possible to repair or remove defective sections in the genome. Find out how he sees the future of biotechnology in Saxony.

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© Fraunhofer FEP, Institut ITM / TU Dresden, Fraunhofer IFAM Dresden, Fraunhofer IKTS

Source: Fraunhofer FEP, Institute ITM / TU Dresden, Fraunhofer IFAM Dresden, Fraunhofer IKTS

IT’S THE MATERIAL THAT MATTERS

Saxony’s research institutes excel with their exceptional materials expertise. And they also contribute this expertise to bio and medical technology. Dresden University of Technology’s Institute of Textile Machinery and High-Performance Material Technology (ITM) develops, for example, textile implants which are used as stents or as artificial muscles and heart valves. Joint replacements and dental implants are produced from metal foams or with powder-metallurgical 3D printing at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM’s Branch Lab Dresden. The Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS Dresden uses ceramic materials for the development of functional components which can be applied in implantology. And the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP in Dresden contributes biodegradable electronics for active implants. 

   

Else Kröner-Fresenius Center (EKFZ) for Digital Health, Dresden

The Else Kröner-Fresenius Center (EKFZ) for Digital Health, is a joint cross-faculty initiative of the Dresden University of Technology (TUD), the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus Dresden (UHD) along with several Fraunhofer and Helmholtz institutes on the Dresden campus. Whereas conventionally the school of medicine and the high-tech specialists work and research independently, the EKFZ bundles their expertise and brings them together through its interdisciplinary structure and network. Driven by a medical need and with direct access to the medical infrastructure, the EKFZ accelerates digitization in medicine for the benefit of the patient.

The EKFZ focuses its research effort on the direct interface of the digital world to the patient thereby serving as a bridge between medical big data efforts and traditional biomedical engineering. The EKFZ is structured in virtual application rooms that represent strategic development areas and will be strengthened by specific appointments for center professorships, and in core rooms, which provide the scientific infrastructure and theoretical basics. The competences from the core rooms are the basis for successful translation of high-tech innovation into routine care.

  • Living Lab

Because the patient-focus is the core mission, the centerpiece of the EKFZ is the living lab, which focuses on working in a scientific context and allows a rapid access to patients by providing a common clinical testbed. New concepts and technological applications can thus be tested in a near-realistic setting. Thereby, patients benefit early on from the latest diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

   

WITH PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE

Convergence is the future of health care: The interdisciplinary cooperation of medicine and life sciences, mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering sciences, and information technology will unfold an enormous social and economic impact on all sectors of society. The major biomedical research facility Center for Medicine Innovation (CMI) with its future Saxon sites in Leipzig and Rackwitz develops and establishes new paths for personalized medicine – “From the people in the region, with the people in the region, for the people in the region.” The focal points of CMI’s research signal a radical change in health care: From merely curative medicine to preventative medicine, from centralized to location-independent care, and from a “one-fits-all” approach to personalized therapies.

   

© ICCAS / Leonie Lang

Quelle: ICCAS / Leonie Lang

WENN DER OP „MITDENKT“

Im Operationssaal der Zukunft „denkt“ die Technik mit: Sie unterstützt Chirurgen bei der OP-Planung und beim Eingriff und entlastet sie von Nebentätigkeiten. Dafür entwickelt das Innovationszentrum für computerassistierte Chirurgie (ICCAS) an der Universität Leipzig computergestützte Technologien und intelligente Assistenzsysteme. Aus gesammelten Daten entstehen hier digitale Patientenmodelle, mit denen sich genauere Diagnosen stellen, Eingriffe planen und individuelle Therapien für den Kranken finden lassen. Während der OP zeigen moderne bildgebende Verfahren dem Chirurgen an, wo genau seine Instrumente zu positionieren sind oder sich Komplikationen anbahnen. Mit seinem komplexen Ansatz gilt das ICCAS weltweit als Pionier. 

   

© Stefan Straube / Universitätsklinikum Leipzig

Source: Stefan Straube / Leipzig University Medical Center

„BIG DATA“ IN MEDICINE

So that physicians in intensive care units are able to recognize life-threatening complications in a timely manner, the consortium “Smart Medical Information Technology for Health Care,” abbreviated SMITH, is developing computer-aided decision support systems under the leadership of Leipzig University. These systems help doctors take the requisite countermeasures with suitable antibiotics and other life-saving remedies at an early stage. Towards this end, the systems evaluate the individual data of patients and the progression of their ailment as well as the latest medical research and combine these data with one another – in strict compliance with data protection and privacy laws, of course. In so doing, the SMITH partners link data integration centers at all participating university hospitals with one another. 

   

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