ECRC News 2012

November 2, 2012

New Findings on Gene Regulation and Bone Development

The patients have single short fingers (metacarpals) and toes (metatarsals) and can be restricted in growth due to a shortened skeleton. This hereditary disease is called brachydactyly type E (Greek for short fingers). Three years ago Dr. Philipp G. Maass from the research group of Professor Friedrich C. Luft at the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC), a joint cooperation between the Charité Medical Faculty and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in Berlin-Buch, has discovered an epigenetic mechanism, which, when dysregulated, causes this condition. Now, together with Dr. Sylvia Bähring (ECRC) he was able to show how this epigenetic regulator functions and influences the development of the skeleton and the extremities. Also, he shed light on a new principle of gene regulation (Journal of Clinical Investigation, doi: 10.1172/JCI65508)*.

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 October 17, 2012

E m b a r g o e d until: Thursday, October 18, 2012, 12:00 PM Noon US Eastern Time, 17:00 PM London Time, 18:00 MEST

Researchers Elucidate Transport Pathway of Immune System Substances

To transport substances from the site of their production to their destination, the body needs a sophisticated transport and sorting system. Various receptors in and on the cells recognize certain molecules, pack them and ensure that they are transported to the right place. One of these receptors is Sortilin. It is present in the cells of the nervous system, the liver, and the immune system. Studies by Stefanie Herda and Dr. Armin Rehm (Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, MDC, Berlin-Buch and Charité–Universitätsmedizin Berlin) and the immunologist Dr. Uta Höpken (MDC) have now shown that the receptor Sortilin plays an important role in the function of the immune system (Immunity, doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2012.07.012)*.

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September 8, 2012

Tracing the Molecular Causes of Preeclampsia – a Life-threatening Disease for Mother and Child

70,000 Maternal Deaths a Year Worldwide

Preeclampsia is one of the most dangerous conditions for the expectant mother and the unborn child and is characterized by elevated blood pressure and protein in the urine in the last trimester of pregnancy. The cause for this life-threatening disease has long remained elusive. Recently however, Dr. Ananth Karumanchi (Associate Professor of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center & Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA) has identified a new molecular pathway that leads to preeclampsia in humans and thus creating new avenues for the development of a therapy, he reported at the 1st ECRC “Franz-Volhard” Symposium on September 8, 2012 at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch.

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September 7, 2012

Treatment with Fungi Makes a Modern Violin Sound Like a Stradiavarius

A good violin depends not only on the expertise of the violin maker, but also on the quality of the wood that is used. The Swiss wood researcher Professor Francis W. M. R. Schwarze (Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, St. Gallen, Switzerland) has succeeded in modifying the wood for a violin through treatment with special fungi. This treatment alters the acoustic properties of the instrument, making it sound indistinguishably similar to a Stradivarius. In his dinner talk at the 1st ECRC “Franz-Volhard” Symposium of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) and Charité - Universitätsmedizin on September 7, 2012 in Berlin-Buch, Schwarze reported on his research and gave a preview of what his wood treatment method could mean, particularly for young violinists.

 

September 7, 2012

US Researchers Discover Surprising New Roles for a Key Regulatory Enzyme of Blood Pressure

Many patients with hypertension are treated with ACE inhibitors. These drugs block the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) that regulates the salt and water balance of the body and raises blood pressure. Recent studies by a research team led by Professor Ken Bernstein (Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, USA) have, however, significantly broadened the enzyme’s known task spectrum: The enzyme also plays a key role in blood formation, renal development and male fertility. In addition, the researchers showed that ACE has a hitherto unexpected influence on the immune response.

 

September 7, 2012

Skin and Immune System Influence Salt Storage and Regulate Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is responsible for many cardiovascular diseases that are the leading cause of death in industrialized countries. High salt intake has long been considered a risk factor, but not every type of high blood pressure is associated with high salt intake. This has puzzled scientists for a long time. However, new findings by Professor Jens Titze (Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA and the University of Erlangen) now point to previously unknown mechanisms. Accordingly, the skin and the immune system play an important role in the regulation of the sodium balance and hypertension, as he reported at the 1st ECRC “Franz-Volhard” Symposium of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin on September 7, 2012 in Berlin-Buch.

September 7, 2012

When Clinicians and Researchers Look Outside the Box

1st ECRC “Franz-Volhard” Symposium at the MDC

What does the immune system have to do with blood pressure, and what does the hypertension enzyme ACE have to do with the immune system and cancer? These are questions researchers and clinicians from various disciplines will discuss at the 1st ECRC Franz Volhard Symposium in the Max Delbrück Communications Center (MDC.C) in Berlin-Buch on September 7-8, 2012. The dinner speaker will be Professor Francis Schwarze, a materials scientist at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa) in St. Gallen, Switzerland). He has developed a method that makes a new violin sound almost like a Stradivarius.

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June 26, 2012

MOLOGEN AG is cooperating with Max Delbrück Center and Charité in clinical study on skin cancer

Preparation for a phase I/II clinical study with MIDGE®-based gene therapy of malignant melanoma

MOLOGEN AG and the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC) of Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch (Center for Molecular Medicine) have finalized a cooperation agreement. At the initiative and under the aegis of Dr. Peter M. Schlag, director of the Charité Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCCC) and Dr. Wolfgang Walther of the ECRC, the safety and tolerance of a MIDGE®-based gene therapy are to be examined in the treatment of malignant melanoma as part of a clinical study planned at the Charité.

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March 13, 2012

Hypertension Specialist and Nephrologist, Friedrich C. Luft, Turns 70 years

Friedrich C. Luft MD, Director of the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC) of the Charité Medical Faculty, Berlin, and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, celebrated his 70th birthday on March 4th, 2012. The nephrologist and hypertension specialist also heads his own research group at the MDC. The research activities of the clinician-researcher focus on the genetics of hypertension and hypertension-related target-organ damage.

 

January 16, 2012

Rapid Diagnosis of Acute Kidney Injury – New Biomarkers Tested

How does a doctor determine whether or not an emergency-room patient has acute kidney injury? Using tests currently available in the hospital, this question is often difficult to answer. In many emergency cases, however, early diagnosis of the severity of the disease picture is crucial. A large multicenter study by clinicians of the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC), a joint cooperation between the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch and the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the Helios Hospital Berlin, and two hospitals in the U.S. has now shown that a urine test for proteins excreted by a damaged kidney helps to swiftly identify high-risk patients (Journal of the American College of Cardiology, online, 9. January 2012)*.

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