No. 48 / December 12, 2016

New compound eases neuropathic pain from light touch

Study in mice identifies an agent that tunes-down ion channel responsible for mechanical hypersensitivity

The slightest touch can evoke intense pain in patients suffering from nerve injuries or conditions such as diabetic neuropathy. A team of researchers of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) has found a way to suppress pain in mice by applying a newly identified chemical agent to the skin of the animals. The substance blocked the action of an ion channel in nerves which is responsible for the perception of light touch. The activation of this channel also leads to severe pain after injuries, which the substance eliminated. The method could work in humans.

No. 47 / November 15, 2016

Curt Meyer Memorial Prize awarded to Charité scientist – Commendation for tumor immunologist Matthias Leisegang

Joint Press Release by Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) and the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Dr. Matthias Leisegang receives this year’s Curt Meyer Memorial Prize for his research work into analysing cancer mutations as a target in adoptive T-cell therapy. His work will allow the development of a patient-specific immunotherapy that fights cancer in a targeted way. The €10,000 Curt Meyer Memorial Prize is awarded annually by the Berlin Cancer Society to a scientists who has made an outstanding contribution to cancer research.

No. 46 / November 14, 2016

MDC cancer researcher Roland Schwarz awarded BBAW prize

Dr. Roland F. Schwarz of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) conducts research on tumors using bioinformatics. He has just been awarded the Prize of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW), donated by the Monika Kutzner Foundation for the Advancement of Cancer Research, for his outstanding work.

No. 45 / November 10, 2016

MDC researcher Klaus Rajewsky celebrates 80th birthday

Klaus Rajewsky, one of the world’s most influential scientists in the fields of genetics and immunology and a researcher at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC), turns 80 on November 12, 2016.

No. 44 / October 25, 2016

Genome editing: efficient CRISPR experiments in mouse cells

In order to use the CRISPR-Cas9 system to cut genes, researchers must design an RNA sequence that matches the DNA of the target gene. Most genes have hundreds of such sequences, with varying activity and uniqueness in the genome. The search for the best sequences is therefore hardly achievable by hand. The new “CrispRGold” program helps scientists to identify the most effective and specific RNA sequences. It has been devised by a group of researchers headed by Prof. Klaus Rajewsky of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC), and is now described in the journal PNAS. The team has also developed a new mouse model that already carries the Cas9 protein. Combining this mouse model with the reliable RNA sequences allowed an efficient inactivation of genes in primary cells. This has enabled the researchers to discover new genes involved in the regulation of immune cells.

No. 43 / October 20, 2016

Disturbance wanted – Newly characterized protein interaction may help in search for new cancer-fighting drugs

Some anticancer agents intend to disturb the function of the p97 protein complex, which is essential for survival of cancer cells. A team of researchers of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) has now found a way to break up the p97 complex into its subunits and published their results in Nature Communications.

No. 42 / October 11, 2016

How the naked mole-rat escapes inflammatory pain

In injuries and inflammation, naked mole-rats do not develop normal hypersensitivity to temperature stimuli. This is due to a tiny change in a receptor molecule on cells called TrkA, as a research team from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) has now discovered. The work, which appears in the journal Cell Reports, may be important for pain therapy in humans.

No 41 / Oktober 7, 2016

MDC researchers discover new regulatory mechanism of important protein

Protein kinase A (PKA) is an important signaling enzyme that is found throughout the body and is involved in many cellular processes. It was thought to have been comprehensively studied, but scientists at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) have now discovered a new layer of PKA regulation and published their findings in Nature Communications.

No. 40 / October 6, 2016

The life cycle of proteins

Systems biology study discovers proteins that become more stable with increasing age

Some proteins behave in an unusual way: the older they become, the more stable they are. A research team at the Max Delbrück Center in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) has now published this surprising finding in the journal Cell. Their work has traced the life cycle of thousands of proteins from synthesis to disposal. The results are relevant for diseases where there are surplus copies of certain genes.

No 39 / October 5, 2016

Governing Mayor Michael Müller visits Berlin-Buch campus

On October 5, 2016, Governing Mayor of Berlin Michael Müller paid a visit to the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) and the Berlin-Buch campus.

No. 38 / October 4, 2016

Why tumors evade immunotherapy

A joint press release by the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association and the Berlin Institute of Health

Immunotherapy is a new and highly promising form of treatment for cancer. In many patients, however, tumors recur after immunotherapy. In the latest issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine, the members of a research team from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in the Helmholtz Association, the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH), and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin explain why some tumors recur and how this can be prevented. The findings will aid the selection of suitable targets for immunotherapy.  

No. 37 / September 26, 2016

Enjoy in moderation: compound from grapes protects cells from aging

Joint press release by the Max Delbrück Center für Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association and the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics

Resveratrol, a compound found in red grapes, is famous for its potential health benefits. This positive impact is not due to the antioxidant effect of the substance or the specific activation of certain “aging genes,” as was previously thought. Instead, the substance has a pro-oxidative effect and promotes the formation of free radicals and targeted cell reprogramming to protect against stress. Scientists from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) and the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics (MPIMG) demonstrated this with experiments on human skin cells.

No. 35 / September 23, 2016

The stork’s nest as a metaphor for scientific freedom

Berlin-based artist Fritz Balthaus has won the “Kunst am Bau” two-stage open public art competition organized by the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. His work “kunstnest” (“art/artificial nest”) accompanies three newly constructed buildings on the Berlin-Buch research campus.

No. 36 / September 23, 2016

Top of her class: Véronique Gebala of the MDC wins the Helmholtz award for best thesis

Each year the Helmholtz Association awards prizes for the best doctoral theses in its research areas – from Energy to Key Technologies. This year’s winner of the award in the field of Health is a recent graduate from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC): Véronique Gebala, from the group of Holger Gerhardt. Veronique and five other PhD students have been presented the PhD prize by Federal Minister for Education and Research Prof. Johanna Wanka and President of the Helmholtz Association Prof. Otmar D. Wiestler at the annual meeting of the Helmholtz Association on Sept. 22 in Berlin.

No. 34 / September 22, 2016

High-ranking Cuban delegation visits the MDC

The latest entry in the MDC guest book reads: “With deep admiration for your scientific work we congratulate you on behalf of the Cuban people.” A high-ranking Cuban delegation, headed by deputy health minister Dr. Alfredo Gonzalez Lorenzo, has just paid a visit to the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC). The eight members of the delegation, who come from the fields of health policy, genetic research and tumor biology, as well as BioCubaFarma, an association of pharmaceutical and biotechnical companies, found out more about the structure and focus of the work carried out by the MDC and the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology (FMP), and visited the BiotechPark at Berlin-Buch.

No. 33 / September 15, 2016

Michael Gotthardt has been promoted to “Professor of Experimental and Translational Cardiology” at the MDC and Charité

With September 1, 2016 cardiologist and medical geneticist Prof. Michael Gotthardt of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) has been appointed W3 Professor for “Experimental and Translational Cardiology” at the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin in cooperation with the MDC. Previously, the MDC group leader held a W2 professorship.

No. 32 / September 2, 2016

Two MDC researchers win European Research Council grants

An ERC double for the MDC: Dr. Jan Philipp Junker and Dr. Gaetano Gargiulo have each been awarded an ERC Starting Grant worth €1.5 million. Junker will be studying cellular processes in the heart of the zebrafish, while Gargiulo will conduct research into glioblastoma, the most common form of brain tumor in humans.

No. 31 / August 26, 2016

Successful recycling: Protein quality control in the cell

A team led by MDC researcher Annika Weber has pinpointed the efficient mechanism used by cells to label faulty proteins. The findings, which provide important insights into the functioning of protein quality control in the cell, have now been published in the journal Molecular Cell.

No. 30 / August 9, 2016

Stem cells of worms and humans more similar than expected

The same regulatory mechanisms are active in the stem cells of flatworms and humans. The transient form of genetic information, the RNA, is processed in a similar manner in the cells of both organisms. These mechanisms seem to be at work throughout the whole animal kingdom. Scientists from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) and their international partners showed this in a genome-wide study on flatworms whose results have now been published in the scientific journal eLife.

No. 29 / July 8, 2016

A “time switch” in the brain improves sense of smell

Joint Press Release of the Leibniz-Institut für molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP) and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC)

When the brain processes olfactory stimuli, it differentiates between similar smells using subtly modulated signals. Brain examinations and behavioral studies in mice have now shown that neurons with inhibiting characteristics play a key role in this process.

No. 28 / June 23, 2016

Max Delbrück Center once again awarded family-friendly status

On June 23, 2016, the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) was awarded the audit berufundfamilie (”Work and Family“) certificate for the third time for its family-friendly policies. Some of the MDC’s new measures include health promotion offers and a service for employees who have to care for family members.

No. 27 / June 20, 2016

Insulin-sensitive fat leads to obesity

Study shows that a cellular sorting protein disrupts fat metabolism by recycling molecular receptors for insulin

No. 26 / June 14, 2016

ARCHES award for MDC researcher: High-resolution maps of genetic modifications

This year’s ARCHES prize, issued by the Minerva Stiftung, goes to systems biologist Dr. Jan Philipp Junker of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) and Prof. Erez Levanon of Bar-Ilan University in Israel. The award, conferred on June 14, 2016, will support a German-Israeli research alliance that will allow changes in gene transcripts to be presented in high spatial resolution for the very first time.

No. 25 / June 2, 2016

Wiretapping the senses

The Poulet lab monitors a conversation between sensory perception and behavior in the mouse brain. Many types of sensory information enter the brain at a structure called the primary sensory cortex, where they are processed by different layers of cells in ways that ultimately influence an animal’s perception and behavioral response. James Poulet’s group at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) has now watched the flow of information between the different layers of the cortex for the first time in awake, active mice. Their work, which is published in the June 2 edition of Cell Reports, provides new insights into links between sensory stimuli and behavior.

No. 24 / June 2, 2016

Preeclampsia: Inflammation of the placenta interferes with fetal development

Preeclampsia is one of the most common complications to occur during pregnancy, yet its causes are still unknown. A new study involving patients, cell cultures and animal experiments has now shown that those affected by the disease have lower quantities of the placenta’s immune protein CD74, and that certain inflammatory factors are higher. These factors disrupt the formation of the placenta and leave the fetus undernourished.

No. 23 / May 23, 2016

Humboldt award winner Nir Friedman to be guest researcher at the MDC

Israeli systems biologist and bioinformatician Prof. Nir Friedman of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI) is this year’s recipient of the prestigious Humboldt Research Award. Friedman’s host institution in Germany will be the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC), where the internationally renowned researcher will collaborate with Prof. Nikolaus Rajewsky.

No. 22 / May 20, 2016

Healthy intestinal flora keeps the mind sharp – with some help from the immune system

A special kind of immune cell serves as an intermediary between gut bacteria and the brain. Dr. Susanne Wolf of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in the Helmholtz Association discovered this in tests on mice and published her findings in the journal Cell Reports. The research findings are of significance when it comes to the effects of using antibiotics in the long term, and could also help to alleviate the symptoms of mental disorders. 

No. 21 / May 17, 2016

Tape measure vs. body scanner: study investigates relationship between abdominal volume and metabolic state

Abdominal fat in overweight patients is a key indicator for metabolic syndrome (MetS). MetSScan, a new health study by the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in the Helmholtz Association, intends to find out whether metabolic state can be predicted more reliably using 3D scanners rather than traditional methods. The study, which is still recruiting participants, was launched in February 2016.

No. 20 / May 10, 2016

Cancer-fighting gene therapy: from research to application

Whether repairing faulty genes or introducing characteristics by delivering new genes into cells, gene therapy holds great potential for personalized medicine. However, safe, efficient and cost-effective therapies of this kind are currently few and far between for clinical use. Researchers at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) now want to translate a new cancer therapy involving reprogrammed immune cells from the laboratory scale to the clinic, and are cooperating with industry partners to achieve this. The Helmholtz Association is supporting the transfer process by setting up a Helmholtz Innovation Lab at the MDC.

No. 19 / April 26, 2016

Oscillations determine whether blood vessels grow thicker or branch

As blood vessels grow, the cells that compose them must make a choice between forming side-branches or expanding the vessel surface and increasing its diameter. Now Prof. Holger Gerhardt at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) and his international research teams have made a crucial disovery about this process: the cells can behave as a collective, moving in the same direction together. Aligning cell behavior requires that they communicate using signals that exhibit oscillating patterns, as the scientists discovered using a combination of computer simulations and experiments. The findings are significant for diseases such as diabetes and cancer and have now been published in the prestigious open-access journal eLife.

No. 17 / April 20, 2016

Lithuanian Vice-Minister visits the MDC and Berlin-Buch campus with a delegation of business and science representatives

Berlin, April 20, 2016. Today, Vice-Minister of the Economy of the Republic of Lithuania Marius Skarupskas visited the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) and the Berlin-Buch campus, accompanied by some of Lithuania’s leading business and science experts.

No. 18 / April 21, 2016

MDC laboratory animal report for 2015

The MDC has informed the Berlin State Office for Health and Social Affairs (LaGeSo) of the number of test animals it used in 2015, which has changed only slightly in comparison to 2014. A total of 40,121 animals were used and killed in the course of experimental research in 2015; of these, 90 percent (36,799) were mice.

No. 15 / April 1, 2016

A single roof at Berlin-Buch for scientists, doctors and patients

A joint press release by the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC), Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, and the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH)

From 2017, a new building will be constructed on the Berlin-Buch research campus that will unite several institutions under one roof. The Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin launched a design competition for a new central site of the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH). The winner has now been chosen, having presented plans for an extension and link building that perfectly reflect the philosophy of the institutions.

No. 16 / April 13, 2016

Fat cells or nerve cells? New research project on the effects of serotonin on cellular differentiation

The research consortium headed by Dr. Natalia Alenina hopes to find out more about the role played by the neurotransmitter serotonin in the formation and differentiation of stem cells. Partners from Russia and Ukraine will work with the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) on this trilateral project, which is receiving a total of €250,000 in funding from the Volkswagen Foundation.

No. 14 / March 22, 2016

MDC founding director Detlev Ganten celebrates his 75th birthday

Medic, science manager, innovator: Prof. Detlev Ganten, founding director of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC), turns 75 on March 28, 2016.

No. 12 / March 3, 2016

Martin Lohse new Chair of the Board and Scientific Director of the MDC

The Supervisory Board of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine of the Helmholtz Association (MDC) has just named Prof. Martin Lohse as the new Chair of the Board and Scientific Director of the MDC. He will take office on April 1.

No. 13 / March 21, 2016

MDC researcher Markus Landthaler receives science prize

The cell regulates the activity of its genes in various ways. The GlaxoSmithKline  Foundation awards Dr. Markus Landthaler of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) for his innovative research about gene regulation. The systems biologist Landthaler wants to understand how proteins bind to and influence the function of the messenger RNA (mRNA), the transient carrier of genetic information after transcription of DNA. The characterization of RNA-binding proteins may help correct disturbed gene regulation in the future.

No. 11 / March 2, 2016

Jeanette Schulz-Menger becomes President of the global SCMR

Jeanette Schulz-Menger already heads the research group “Cardio-MRT” at the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC) and the University Clinic for Cardiology on the Charité campus in Buch. In January she acquired yet another prominent position: as President of the Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance (SCMR), the largest international society bringing together specialists in the field of Cardio-MRT. “This organization combines the expertise of specialists in cardiology and radiology as well as physics, computional science and mathematics and covers both basic research and clinical work,” says Schulz-Menger, who has been active in the society since 1998. She is the first woman to reach the post since the SCMR was founded in 1997.

No. 10 / March 1, 2016

Junior researcher Kathryn Poole takes up post at the University of New South Wales

Dr. Kathryn Poole, a scientist at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC), has accepted a position at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia. She will continue her research into how the cellular perception of very fine mechanical stimuli functions on a molecular level.

No. 9 / 19 February 2016

Precise visualization of myocardial injury

World’s first patient-based cardiac MRI study using 7T MRI

 

No. 8 / February 19, 2016

Gene therapy: T cells target mutations to fight tumors

An international research team from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) and the Charité (partners in the Berlin Institute of Health, BIH), the Humboldt University Berlin and the University of Chicago has successfully modified immune cells to recognize and specifically target tumor cells in mice. Cancer treatments based on the findings would likely have fewer side effects than standard therapies currently in use.

No. 7 / 18 February 2016

Stuck on the school bench

Citizen science: Teachers, pupils and scientists work together to measure sitting behavior in young people.

 

No. 6 / 28 January 2016

Ischemic renal failure and organ damage: a new mouse model holds the key

Every year acute renal failure affects over 13 million people and leads to 1.7 million deaths across the globe.It often develops when an insufficient supply of oxygen reaches the kidneys, a condition called ischemia. Working with their colleagues from the MDC, the Charité and FMP in Berlin and Hannover Medical School, Dr Lajos Markó and Emilia Vigolo have traced one of the causes of ischemia-related renal failure to a signaling molecule called NF-κB and a specific type of tissue: tubular epithelial cells. Suppressing NF-κB signaling in these renal cells almost entirely eliminates the fatal tissue damage and inflammatory responses that accompany the disease.

 

No. 4 / 22 January 2016

James Poulet receives second grant from the European Research Council

Group leader Dr James Poulet of the Max-Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine and the NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence will receive a Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council. Poulet and his team will continue their research on how the brain generates sensory perception.

 

No. 5 / 25 January 2016

Hacking the programs of cancer stem cells

All of the cells in a tumor are the offspring of a single, aberrant cell, but they are not all alike. Only a few retain the capacity of the original cell to create an entire tumor. Such cancer stem cells can migrate to other tissues and become fatal metastases. To fully cure a patient’s cancer, it is crucial to find and eliminate all of these cells because any that escape can regenerate the tumor and trigger its spread through the body.

 

Liang Fang and his colleagues in Walter Birchmeier’s group, working with the Screening Unit and Medicinal Chemistry Group of the FMP and the campus company EPO, have now discovered a molecule that interrupts biochemical signals essential for the survival of tumor cells called Wnt-addicted cancer stem cells. The discovery is the product of an approach known as “rational drug design,” targeting specific molecules based on a thorough understanding of the biology of a disease and the biochemical signals that support it. The work appeared ahead of print in the online edition of Cancer Research.

 

No. 3 / 22 January 2016

How to detect and preserve human stem cells in the lab

Human stem cells that are capable of becoming any other kind of cell in the body have previously only been acquired and cultivated with difficulty. Scientists at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in the Helmholtz Association have now presented details of a method to detect such pluripotent cells in a cell culture and preserve them in the laboratory.

 

No. 2 / January 21, 2016

Role model stem cells: How immune cells can self-renew

When our organs age or wear out, their renewal usually depends on a few stem cells in the tissue, because the vast majority of differentiated cells have lost their ability to divide and generate new cells. A German-French team led by Michael Sieweke from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in Berlin and the Centre d’Immunologie de Marseille-Luminy (CIML) in Marseille has now discovered how macrophages, a type of specialized immune cell, can nevertheless divide and self-renew almost indefinitely. As the researchers show in the journal Science, the macrophages achieve this by activating a gene network similar to one found in embryonic stem cells. In the future the findings could provide new directions in regenerative medicine and therapies.

No. 1 / January 13 2016

Alf Wachsmann gets DDN Pioneer Award

Dr Alf Wachsmann, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in the Helmholtz Association, was awarded the „DDN Pioneer Award 2015“. With this prize, the US-based company DDN distinguishes individuals, groups, or institutions „who are embracing leading-edge high performance computing technologies to shatter long-standing technical limits and to accelerate business results and scientific insights“.