Research, Innovation, Patient care, Education / 15.04.2024
From cell biology to CRISPR/Cas – new knowledge for schools

Photo: Peter Himsel / Campus Berlin-Buch GmbH
Photo: Peter Himsel / Campus Berlin-Buch GmbH

The Life Science Learning Lab at the Berlin-Buch research campus offers both school students and teachers the opportunity to immerse themselves in science. This year, the facility celebrates its 25th anniversary

A white coat is more than just a protective garment. It is a symbol. Claudia Jacob, who heads the Life Science Learning Lab at the Berlin-Buch research campus, has often observed this phenomenon. Each year, some 14,000 school students and teachers visit the learning laboratory in the green setting in the north of Berlin. “They take on a different role when they put on their lab coats,” remarked Claudia Jacob. “Their curiosity seems to be awakened in an instant.” In the late 1990s, the founding director of the Max Delbrück Center, Professor Detlev Ganten, had the idea of establishing an information center to keep citizens abreast of developments in genetic engineering and biotechnology. The aim was for visitors to be able to look over the shoulders of scientists working in the lab. But Dr. Ulrich Scheller, then head of the public relations team at Campus Berlin-Buch GmbH (CBB) and now one of its managing directors, knew that just watching was not enough. The biochemist is convinced that “if you want to get people excited about research, you have to give them a chance to work with pipettes and test tubes.” And so the concept was revised.

In April 1999, after three years of renovation, the Life Science Learning Lab opened its doors as a student lab in the listed carriage house on the research campus.

More than 20 different courses

It all began with four molecular genetics experiments. Today, 25 years later, there are six laboratories in all, making it one of the largest facilities of its kind in Germany. The CBB runs the Life Science Learning Lab together with the Max Delbrück Center and the Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP); they are supported by numerous sponsors and partners, including the campus-based company Eckert & Ziegler, a provider of isotope technology for medical, scientific and industrial use. Together, they offer more than 20 experimental courses covering topics such as molecular biology, cell biology, neurobiology, chemistry, radioactivity and ecology. “We are one of the few student labs in Germany where young people can even conduct experiments with CRISPR-Cas9 gene scissors,” remarked Ulrike Mittmann, scientific leader of the Molecular Biology Laboratory. Since molecular biology involves working with cells and pathogens or genetically modifying organisms, strict safety regulations apply. Schools, unlike the Life Science Learning Lab, cannot adhere to such strict regulations. As a result, the facility is a vehicle for exposing young people to current research topics.

Something for everyone

The Forschergarten at the Life Science Learning Lab also caters to young children of elementary school and kindergarten age. Moreover, there are working groups for school students, vacation courses, lectures and laboratory courses to prepare students for college. Teachers attend professional development sessions to learn about newly designed courses in the Life Science Learning Lab. In the “Lab meets Teacher” format, the Max Delbrück Center also offers teachers insights into current research topics and methods, such as single-cell analysis and Artificial Intelligence in biomedicine. Together with the Max Delbrück Center, the FMP and the Experimental and Clinical Research Center, the Life Science Learning Lab organizes the regional competition “Jugend forscht” Berlin-Brandenburg – most recently in February of this year. A total of 95 school students presented their projects at the Max Delbrück Communications Center and were given an insight into the research facilities and the Student Lab on the campus during the supporting program. “Fostering young talent is the primary goal of the Life Science Learning Lab,” commented Ulrich Scheller. “In addition to providing basic knowledge for all, we also support high-achieving school students to prepare them for a career in science or the life sciences sector.” After all, young talent is in short supply everywhere, including research labs. That is why it is important to encourage young people to train or study in this field, said Scheller. His co-managing director Dr. Christina Quensel added: “We want to show young people that researchers do not focus on abstract issues that no one else understands, but that their work affects society as a whole.” That is why ethical issues are on the agenda alongside the school curriculum. For example, why are animal experiments necessary, why should we be particularly cautious about stem cell therapies, and what does a genetic fingerprint reveal about a person? Both researchers and students benefit from this face-to-face interaction. “It is important that scientists occasionally come down from the ivory tower of basic research and explain their work in a way that is easy to understand,” stated Christina Quensel. “Many a scientist has chosen to change careers to teaching after such an experience.”

Parallels to soccer

To develop the course content, the Life Science Learning Lab team works closely with teachers from four partner schools in Berlin. They help the lab staff prepare cutting-edge research topics to fit the framework curriculum. “It takes a lot of effort for teachers to come to us with a class,” Ulrich Scheller explained. “They have to inform the parents, collect money and take the suburban train to Berlin-Buch. That means we have to give them something they can use for their classes.”

Anyone who has seen Claudia Jacob welcoming new students to her neurobiology class has no doubt that she manages to do just that. She has the youngsters put on special glasses and lets them play with various balls in the foyer of the Max Delbrück Communications Center. Ripples of laughter fill the room. The glasses change the angle of vision, making throwing and catching virtually impossible – this is what it feels like when our brains and nervous systems are misled. “Starting the class in this way sparks curiosity in the subject,” stated Claudia Jacob. It is much easier to understand when you experience firsthand what is about to be tested in various experiments. Biology is then no longer just a school subject, but the science that teaches us how an organism works. “It’s like soccer”, said Ulrike Mittmann, putting it in a nutshell. “Even if you can recite all the rules and know in theory that the ball has to go into the net, that doesn’t make you a world champion. The only way to become a world champion is to actually sprint across the field.”

For this reason, hands-on experience is a top priority in the Life Science Learning Lab. How much caffeine is in cola, how scented oils are extracted from plants, how long it takes for a nerve impulse to travel from the brain to the big toe – these are just some of the things students learn under the guidance of Claudia Jacob and her colleagues. At the end, they present their results to the class. The content of the course is not set in stone, and new things are being added all the time. Dr. Bärbel Görhardt, scientific leader of the Chemistry Laboratory, is currently designing two new courses: one on dyes in algae and how they can be extracted, and another on enzymes, which act as catalysts to initiate or accelerate various chemical reactions in the body.

Digitization in the laboratory

“In the future, we would like to link the activities of the Life Science Learning Lab more closely to current research on campus,” said Professor Maike Sander, Scientific Director and Chair of the Board of the Max Delbrück Center. One of the goals is to introduce students to innovative technologies such as single-cell sequencing and new imaging techniques. In addition, budding researchers are always guaranteed a place in the courses – perhaps not always in person, but in the form of short videos. In these videos, students explain their own experiments, which are not so dissimilar to those in the Life Science Learning Lab. “This allows the young people to see that their experiments are close to real research,” remarked Maike Sander. New media is also being used more extensively: for example, students can wear virtual reality goggles to see inside a human heart. “When they see a misfolded protein with their own eyes and observe the chain reaction that occurs, they can better understand how this affects the function of the heart,” explained Sander. As part of its graduate program, the Max Delbrück Center has launched a communications course in which doctoral students produce explainer videos and animations for the Life Science Learning Lab. In addition, the Max Delbrück Center plans to provide digital workbooks and teaching materials for schools. The FMP is also keen to focus more on current scientific and technological developments. “One exciting area is Artificial Intelligence, where we want to develop projects that allow students to understand the basics of AI and where we see areas of application in our research areas,” explained Professor Dorothea Fiedler, Director of the FMP. And the lab leaders of the Life Science Learning Lab would like to see more digitization of their work: for example, students could receive work instructions on tablets and store and share their results in the cloud. New media also offer great opportunities for microscopy, commented Ulrike Mittmann: “Looking at your own blood cells not just through an eyepiece, but on a large screen – and then taking the image home as a screensaver on your smartphone – that would be awesome!”

A truly worthwhile contribution

Inspiring a passion for research is important to everyone involved, including Paola Eckert-Palvarini, member of the Supervisory Board of Eckert & Ziegler SE. She initiated not only the Forschergarten, but also the Radioactivity Laboratory. “Radioactivity has a bad reputation in Germany,” remarked the radiation physicist, “out of ignorance.” She wants to put an end to that. In addition to experiments, she also passes on practical knowledge. Natural radiation is everywhere: “There is cosmic radiation from space, radioactive elements and rocks in the ground emit radiation, as do certain foods and even we humans.” This natural background radiation is not a health hazard. It is a different matter for radiation generated and used in industry and medicine, such as measuring the thickness of paper or treating cancer. But there is no reason to be afraid, the scientist explained: “Because we can measure radioactivity, we can use it wisely and protect ourselves from it.” Eckert-Palvarini also wants to explain how research works and what it takes to keep research results from disappearing into a drawer. The scientist is also an entrepreneur. “Research is not just about standing in a lab and chasing your own dream,” she stated. “It is also about putting discoveries and inventions to work for people.” That includes patents and licenses, as well as starting up companies. The students sometimes ask her lots of questions about these issues. “Of all the things I do, the student courses are the most rewarding,” remarked Eckert-Palvarini. “Afterwards, I go home feeling like I’ve really done something worthwhile.”

Future euphoria at Berlin-Buch

After 25 years in existence, the Life Science Learning Lab is now poised to grow beyond the boundaries of the research campus. In the new Education and Integration Center, to be built on the open space at Groscurthstraße 21-33 in the center of Berlin-Buch, it will operate three laboratories – “not quite as technically sophisticated as the laboratories on campus, but more suitable for families, where children can be introduced to scientific topics in a playful way,” explained Ulrich Scheller. This development places the Life Science Learning Lab in the heart of Berlin-Buch – the location of future innovation, where it will take on another task for society as a whole: Teaching people of all ages how science works. This includes showing them that it is part of normal scientific discourse for researchers to hold different views. “In research, many different paths lead to the goal,” noted Christina Quensel. “And it can happen that new knowledge turns everything we thought we knew upside down. We want to share this future euphoria with the public.” Dorothea Fiedler is of the same opinion: “We do not just want to communicate knowledge, but also to stimulate curiosity and foster the ability to apply and question scientific methods.” Claudia Jacob also considers this important – “especially in this day and age when so many skeptics of science are coming on the scene and spreading their alternative truths.” Putting on a lab coat and assuming the role of researcher can help us all to form an informed opinion.

Text: Jana Ehrhardt-Joswig / Campus Berlin-Buch GmbH

Research / 11.04.2024
ERC grants Berlin scientists € 2.5 million each

(From left) Gary Lewin © Pablo Castagnola / MDC; James Poulet © Felix Petermann, Max Delbrück Center
(From left) Gary Lewin © Pablo Castagnola / MDC; James Poulet © Felix Petermann, Max Delbrück Center

Neuroscientists Gary Lewin and James Poulet at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine have won highly coveted and competitive ERC Advanced Grants to study pain and the neural mechanisms that underlie temperature perception.

The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded Max Delbrück Center neuroscientist Professor Gary Lewin his third prestigious Advanced Grant of €2.5 million over five years to study how nerves in the skin become overly sensitive to mechanical stimuli and cause chronic pain. “The research could lead to new pain medicines, which are sorely needed,” says Lewin.

The ERC has also awarded Max Delbrück Center neuroscientist Professor James Poulet a €2.5 million Advanced Grant to study the relationship between core body temperature in mammals and their perceptions of external temperature. Poulet’s research is basic in nature and focuses on understanding how the healthy brain functions.

Perception of mechanical pain

Gary Lewin, Group Leader of the Molecular Physiology of Somatic Sensation lab, has been researching the perception of touch and pain for over 25 years. He is a pioneer in the study of the molecular mechanisms responsible for sensing mechanical pressure on the skin – a stroke or pinch for example – in mammals.

Earlier this year, Lewin and his team reported discovering a new ion channel – pores in cellular membranes through which charged biomolecules pass through to generate the electrical activity of cells. The ion channel, called Elkin1, is present in sensory endings in the skin. It plays an essential role in transmitting the sense of touch via nerve fibers to the brain. The study was published last month in the journal “Science.”

With his new Advanced Grant, Lewin now aims to use proteomic techniques that quantify all proteins in single cells to identify ion channels in skin involved in transmitting the sense of pain. “One of the approaches we want to take is to compare the proteomes of cells that transduce these persistent mechanical stimuli to cells that don't,” Lewin explains.

Hypersensitive nerves cause many types of chronic pain syndromes, says Lewin. For example, pressure sensitive nerve fibers may become hypersensitive to mechanical stimuli causing painful sensations to the slightest touch. “We want to find the distinctive molecules that are exclusively involved in the transduction of persistent mechanical painful stimuli,” he adds.

The research could lead to new types of pain treatments. It has been decades since a new pain medication has been introduced to the market, says Lewin, who developed an antibody-based pain treatment 28 years ago. The antibody was never marketed for use in humans but is now the basis of a medication given to dogs and cats suffering from chronic arthritis pain. Moreover, many existing pain medications do not provide sufficient relief for people suffering from chronic pain, he adds.

Lewin is thrilled to be among the selected awardees: “I’m very happy. It's so gratifying that the ERC felt that our project was both interesting and new, to fund me for a third time.”

Maintaining a healthy body temperature

How the brain perceives different types of sensory stimuli is a fundamental, but unsolved, problem in neuroscience. It has long been thought that the brain regulates internal body temperature and senses external temperatures via separate networks of neuronal cells, explains James Poulet, Group Leader of the Neural Circuits and Behavior lab. But Poulet’s research suggests this view is too simplistic.

In a research paper published in the journal “Nature” last year, Poulet and his colleagues identified the primary cortical representation of temperature, a “thermal cortex,” in a posterior region of the insular cortex. This region not only responds to external temperature, but may also compare core temperature with skin temperature to create a signal by which the brain perceives the difference between the two.

“Rather than being completely separate systems, we think that brain networks that control our core physiology and those that sense the environment communicate closely with each other,” Poulet says.

With his Advanced Grant, Poulet and his colleagues will compare human and mouse, which are warm-blooded, to naked mole-rats, which are cold-blooded, to identify the cellular networks that integrate sensory and core body-state information. The researchers plan to use a combination of techniques that include neural recordings and anatomical tracing, which identifies connections between brain areas.

Poulet’s lab also plans to study individual differences in core body temperature and how they contribute to differences in perception of external temperature – a phenomenon that may explain why one person might feel the need to wear a jacket when the outside temperature is 15 degrees Celsius, while another is comfortable in a T-shirt.

Although the research will have implications for diseases that involve disrupted physiology, Poulet is more focused on studying how the brain works. “Understanding the healthy brain is how we're going to solve brain diseases in the long term,” he says.

Poulet is “happily surprised and excited,” at having won an Advanced Grant. “It's a real honor.”

Research / 09.04.2024
The Protein Expert

Fan Liu (on right side) received the Mattauch-Herzog Sponsorship Award in March 2024, presented by the German Society for Mass Spectrometry (DGMS). © Jürgen Gross
Fan Liu (on right side) received the Mattauch-Herzog Sponsorship Award in March 2024, presented by the German Society for Mass Spectrometry (DGMS). © Jürgen Gross

Prof. Dr. Fan Liu from the Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP) has recently received several awards for her contributions to the field of cross-linking mass spectrometry. The scientist is dedicated to better understanding the interactions between proteins at the cellular level. Additionally, she is developing methods and standards to refine this complex and indispensable technology for many research questions, making it more broadly applicable.

A lot is already known about the processes in human cells, but this knowledge is insufficient to understand, for example, how neurodegenerative diseases originate and can be cured. "To counteract diseases, we first need to know exactly how the cell functions in its normal state," says FMP researcher Prof. Dr. Fan Liu.

The biologist specializes in analyzing the interactions of proteins in cells. Such protein-protein interactions (PPI) underlie nearly all cellular processes. Deciphering them is crucial to understand the regulatory mechanisms of the cell under physiological and pathological conditions. Fan Liu and other researchers worldwide use cross-linking mass spectrometry (XL-MS) for this purpose. It is the only technology currently available that can both reveal the identities of interacting proteins and localize their binding interfaces. Additionally, XL-MS provides information about the three-dimensional structures of proteins.

Since 2017, Fan Liu has been the head of the "Structural Interactomics" research group and the Mass Spectrometry technology platform at FMP, and she also holds a professorship for Structural Interactomics at the Charité. She is working on developing new XL-MS methods and applying them to highly complex biological samples. Her goal is to gain more comprehensive insights into the naturally occurring three-dimensional structures and interactions of proteins in a cell, to better understand its general biological state and the cellular processes that are currently active.

Until a few years ago, XL-MS experiments were limited to simple mixtures of purified proteins, but they can now provide deep insights into the cellular proteome and interactome – the totality of proteins and PPI within a cell. Fan Liu has made significant contributions to this dramatic improvement: "I have developed several key methods for proteome-wide XL-MS studies and new applications that enable unprecedented insights into various complex biological systems," she says. This includes a workflow that significantly accelerates the identification of thousands of cross-links in intact human cells, with a much larger number of proven PPIs. Fan Liu and her team have also developed approaches for standardization and quality assurance in XL-MS, as well as software solutions for automatic analysis and visualization of XL-MS data.

For these diverse achievements, Fan Liu received together with Dr. Jonas Warneke from the University of Leipzig the Mattauch-Herzog Sponsorship Award in March 2024, presented by the German Society for Mass Spectrometry (DGMS) and endowed with 12,500 euros. "I am very pleased that my work in the field of XL-MS has been recognized. My goal is to provide better access to cellular data across numerous biological fields and to translate this information into useful applications," says Fan Liu about the award.

Back in January, the FMP researcher had already been named one of the "2024 Rising Stars in Proteomics and Metabolomics" by the Journal of Proteome Research (JPR) of the American Chemical Society. A few weeks later, she and Patrik Verstreken from the Leuven Brain Institute received a Collaborative Pairs Pilot Project Award from the Neurodegeneration Challenge Network (NDCN) of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. The researchers aim to study the interactions between synaptic proteins of hibernating animals to better understand how hibernators counteract the permanent loss of synapses. Through this, Fan Liu and Patrik Verstreken hope to gain insights into how synapse loss in human neurodegenerative diseases can be mitigated.

Source: Press Release at the website of the Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP): The Protein Expert

Innovation / 21.03.2024
Eckert & Ziegler Receives MDR Certification for Prostate Seeds, Paving the Way for Long-term Supply

Eckert & Ziegler BEBIG GmbH, subsidiary of Eckert & Ziegler SE with focus on brachytherapy solutions for the treatment of prostate cancer as well as eye and brain tumors, obtained the MDR certificate for its proprietary prostate seeds from DEKRA Certification B.V. as one of the first companies in its market. This important milestone guarantees a high level of patient safety and the long-term availability of the seeds within the EU.

The Medical Device Regulation (MDR) is a European Union directive (EU 2017/745) with the aim of improving the quality of medical devices and increasing patient safety. Prostate seeds have been manufactured and internationally marketed by Eckert & Ziegler since 1999 and contribute several million euros in annual sales to the Eckert & Ziegler Group's earnings.

"We are very pleased about the first successful MDR certification. It confirms that our quality management system and the prostate seeds comply with the stringent requirements and that we can continue to provide them to our users as a safe medical device. This is not only a significant achievement for the distribution of our brachytherapy products, but for the entire Eckert & Ziegler Group," explained Katrin Antonenko, Managing Director of Eckert & Ziegler BEBIG GmbH. "We are already working intensively on the certification of our other medical products in order to ensure patient care for further applications in the long term. We will benefit from the experience gained from the successful approval process."

In prostate seed brachytherapy, pinhead-sized implants are inserted directly in the prostate. Due to the proximity of the radiation source to the tumor, the surrounding healthy tissue is spared as much as possible in this minimally invasive radiation procedure.

About Eckert & Ziegler.
Eckert & Ziegler SE with more than 1.000 employees is a leading specialist for isotope-related components in nuclear medicine and radiation therapy. The company offers a broad range of services and products for the radiopharmaceutical industry, from early development work to contract manufacturing and distribution. Eckert & Ziegler shares (ISIN DE0005659700) are listed in the TecDAX index of Deutsche Börse

Source: Press Release
Eckert & Ziegler Receives MDR Certification for Prostate Seeds, Paving the Way for Long-term Supply

Innovation / 19.03.2024
Eckert & Ziegler Completes Change of Legal Form to SE

Eckert & Ziegler Strahlen- und Medizintechnik AG (ISIN DE0005659700) today completed its change of legal form to a Societas Europaea (SE) with entry in the company's commercial register and will in future operate as Eckert & Ziegler SE.

Eckert & Ziegler SE has a dualistic management system consisting of a management body (Executive Board) and a supervisory body (Supervisory Board). The corporate bodies of Eckert & Ziegler SE are therefore, as at Eckert & Ziegler Strahlen- und Medizintechnik AG, the Executive Board, the Supervisory Board, and the General Meeting.

All shareholders hold the same number of shares in Eckert & Ziegler SE as they did in Eckert & Ziegler Strahlen- und Medizintechnik AG before the change of legal form. The number of no-par value shares issued remains unchanged. Trading will continue seamlessly. The conversion in the shareholders' securities accounts will take place automatically. The previous ISIN DE0005659700, WKN 565970 and the ticker symbol EUZ will remain unchanged.


About Eckert & Ziegler.
Eckert & Ziegler SE with more than 1.000 employees is a leading specialist for isotope-related components in nuclear medicine and radiation therapy. The company offers a broad range of services and products for the radiopharmaceutical industry, from early development work to contract manufacturing and distribution. Eckert & Ziegler shares (ISIN DE0005659700) are listed in the TecDAX index of Deutsche Börse.

Source: Press Release Eckert & Ziegler AG
Eckert & Ziegler Completes Change of Legal Form to SE

Research / 01.03.2024
A new channel for touch

Sampurna Chakrabarti, Research Group of Gary Lewin, at the mikrocope. Katharina Bohm, Max Delbrück Center
Sampurna Chakrabarti, Research Group of Gary Lewin, at the mikrocope. Katharina Bohm, Max Delbrück Center

Touch is a fundamental, yet scarcely understood, sense. Now, the team led by Gary Lewin at the Max Delbrück Center has discovered a second ion channel associated with touch perception. Elkin1 could be a target for pain therapy, the team writes in “Science”.

Every hug, every handshake, every dexterous act engages and requires touch perception. Therefore, it is essential to understand the molecular basis of touch. “Until now, we had known that the ion channel – Piezo2 – is required for touch perception, but it was clear that this protein alone cannot explain the entirety of touch sensation,” says Professor Gary Lewin, head of the Molecular Physiology of Somatic Sensation Lab at the Max Delbrück Center.

For over 20 years Lewin has been studying the molecular basis of the sensation of touch. He and his team have now discovered a new ion channel, named Elkin1, that plays a vital role in touch perception. This is only the second ion channel implicated in the touch perception. It is likely that the protein is directly involved in converting a mechanical stimulus, such as light touch, into an electrical signal. When Elkin1 is present, the receptors in the skin can transmit the touch signals via nerve fibers, to the central nervous system and brain. The researchers have published their findings in the journal “Science.”

Lewin’s team came across Elkin1 a few years ago while investigating a malignant melanoma cell line. The researchers had found that the protein is required for sensing mechanical forces by these highly motile cancer cells. “Now we wanted to determine whether the same protein also plays a role in touch sensation” says Lewin.

Lack of Elkin1 reduces touch sensitivity

The researchers bred genetically modified mice that lacked the Elkin1 gene. They then conducted simple behavioral experiments that involved lightly brushing a cotton swab against the rodents’ hind paws. “Usually, normal mice react to the cotton swab 90% of the time,” says Lewin. “In contrast, mice lacking Elkin1 only reacted half of the time, indicating touch insensitivity”. Importantly, the rodents’ reaction to non-mechanical stimuli like temperature was not affected.

At the neuronal level, Dr. Sampurna Chakrabarti, a scientist in Lewin’s team, used the patch clamp method to record the electrical activity of sensory neurons in response to poking of the neuronal membrane. “Around half of the neurons in genetically modified mice lacking Elkin1 didn’t respond to mechanical stimuli, and no signal transmission occurred,” says Chakrabarti. Further experiments confirmed that there were no signals relayed from the neuron’s receptor ending in the skin, on the first leg of the signals journey from skin to the spinal cord and brain. Furthermore, their Australian collaborators in the lab of Professor Mirella Dottori in the University of Wollongong tested whether Elkin1 in necessary for touch transduction in human sensory neurons grown in a petri dish from stem cells. Their findings also strongly suggest that Elkin1 could play a major role in human touch perception.

The researchers assume that during normal signal transmission, Elkin1 and Piezo2 share roles in touch perception. They have also found evidence that Elkin1 may play a part in the transmission of painful mechanical stimuli. “If this is confirmed to be the case, we will have not only identified a second ion channel with an indispensable role in normal touch perception, but also a new potential target for treating chronic pain,” says Lewin.

Text: Stefanie Reinberger

Source: Press Release Max Delbrück Center
A new channel for touch

Innovation / 08.02.2024
FyoniBio, Alder Therapeutics, and BioLamina enter Consortium Grant Agreement to Propel Recombinant Human Laminin Development for Clinical Applications

Berlin, Germany, and Stockholm, Sweden, February 07, 2024 — FyoniBio, a contract development organization (CDO) specializing in customized cell line and process development has partnered with BioLamina, a biotech company renowned for its expertise in extracellular laminin-based cell biology and development of laminins as tools for cell culture, and Alder Therapeutics, a virtual preclinical allogeneic stem cell therapy development company. The consortium will advance the development of laminins for clinical applications.

As part of the grant-funded consortium, BioLamina and FyoniBio have executed a Master Service Agreement under which FyoniBio will use its long-standing expertise in cell line development in a variety of different mammalian cell systems, including human cell lines, to develop production clones for a couple of BioLamina’s full-length human recombinant laminins.

"FyoniBio is honored to collaborate with BioLamina and Alder Therapeutics in this transformative project. The synergy between FyoniBio's advanced human cell line development capabilities, BioLamina's legacy and significant impact on cell culture standardization and quality by their laminins as substrates, and Alder’s innovative cell therapy development platform will make for a fruitful collaboration. This is the latest step in our collective commitment to help advancing cell therapies”, commented Dr. Lars Stöckl, Managing Director at FyoniBio. “

“The collaboration between BioLamina, FyoniBio and Alder Therapeutics, supported by the secured grant funding, will enable us to combine the specific expertise of all three parties, which we expect will result in a further pushing of the boundaries of cell therapy”, says Veronica Byfield Sköld, CEO of BioLamina

“Both FyoniBio and BioLamina are renowned for their complex protein production expertise, so partnering with them is a fantastic opportunity,” commented Dr. Kristian Tryggvason, CEO at Alder therapeutics. “This collaboration will provide us with additional support for our manufacturing process, so we can help treat the Retinitis Pigmentosa patients”, commented Dr. Kristian Tryggvason, CEO at Alder therapeutics.

For more information about FyoniBio, please visit For more information about BioLamina, please visit To find out more about Alder Therapeutics, please visit

About FyoniBio GmbH

FyoniBio’s ISO-9001 certified service portfolio covers the development chain from cell line development, process development and in-depth analytical characterization, including bioassays and clinical sample monitoring under GCLP. FyoniBio’s expertise builds on the long-standing experience of their scientists who have developed various cell lines and processes which entered late-stage clinical trials. FyoniBio`s customized approaches enable rapid, high-titer cell line development in various mammalian host cell lines specialized in meeting individual product requirements. Besides the CHOnamite® platform, FyoniBio provides the human GEX® platform, which is particularly suited for recombinant proteins with complex glycan structures. Furthermore, FyoniBio is highly skilled in mass spectrometry based in-depth analytical characterization of biopharmaceuticals and offers the whole package of clinical sample analysis from assay establishment, validation and measurement of clinical samples under GCLP.

All services are established according to the internal quality management system to assure compliance with international ISO standard and meeting international GMP standards.

About BioLamina AB

BioLamina is a Swedish biotechnology company founded in 2009, built on a strong scientific foundation in cell biology and with a legacy in extracellular matrix biology. BioLamina develops, manufactures and commercializes human recombinant laminin substrates to better reflect a biorelevant environment for cultured cells in order to maintain control, gain protocol precision and create safe cells for therapy.

With its expansive portfolio of cell culture matrices, BioLamina has established itself as a key player in advancing cell therapy worldwide, recognized for its premium products, deep scientific competence and state-of-the-art service.

About Alder Therapeutics

Alder Therapeutics is a biotechnology company on a mission to cure the incurable by harnessing the potential of pluripotent stem cell-developed therapies. Through our unique cell therapy development philosophy, we overcome the challenges of traditional development approaches, embedding risk reduction and commercial-mindedness at the core of cell therapy programs.

We have two promising allogenic stem cell therapies in the pipeline, both with preclinical proof of concept data. Our flagship program is a retinal cell therapy aiming to revolutionize treatment of Retinitis Pigmentosa.

Quelle: FyoniBio GmbH

Innovation / 23.01.2024
Eckert & Ziegler and Full-Life Technologies Sign Actinium-225 Supply Agreement for Next Generation Radiopharmaceuticals

Eckert & Ziegler (ISIN DE0005659700, SDAX) and Full-Life Technologies (Full-Life), a clinical stage, fully integrated global radiotherapeutics company today announced they have entered into an agreement for the supply of Actinium-225 (Ac-225). The agreement provides Full-Life with access to Eckert & Ziegler's high-purity Actinium-225, a radionuclide for use in developing the next generation of therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals.

Ac-225 has emerged as a highly promising active agent for the treatment of cancer. The radioisotope releases potent alpha particles with high energy and short penetration depths, allowing for precise targeting of tumor cells, including hard-to-reach micro-metastases, while minimizing impact on surrounding healthy tissue. Based on its potential, clinical and industry experts expect a substantial increase in Ac-225 demand in the coming decade.

“We are delighted to have forged a supply collaboration with Full-Life Technologies, dedicating ourselves to facilitating their journey in clinical development,” said Dr Harald Hasselmann, CEO of Eckert & Ziegler. “Historically, limited Ac-225 supply has impeded progress in both clinical research and commercial applications. With the establishment of our new Ac-225 production facility, we aim to significantly increase access to this important radionuclide, with ramp up at the new facility occurring in the second half of the year.”

Ac-225 constitutes an essential element within our portfolio of therapeutic compounds, including our lead candidate, Ac-FL-020 for the treatment of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer,” stated Philippe van Put, General Manager of Full-Life Technologies Europe. “Securing access is imperative for advancing our development and clinical research efforts. Eckert & Ziegler brings great expertise and more than three decades of experience as a radioisotope specialist in support of our ambitious development initiatives.”

About Eckert & Ziegler
Eckert & Ziegler Strahlen- und Medizintechnik AG with more than 1.000 employees is a leading specialist for isotope-related components in nuclear medicine and radiation therapy. The company offers a broad range of services and products for the radiopharmaceutical industry, from early development work to contract manufacturing and distribution. Eckert & Ziegler shares (ISIN DE0005659700) are listed in the SDAX index of Deutsche Börse.
Contributing to saving lives.

About Full-Life Technologies
Full-Life Technologies Limited ("Full-Life") is a fully integrated global radiotherapeutics company with operations in Belgium, Germany, and China. We seek to own the entire value chain for radiopharmaceutical research & development, production & commercialization in order to deliver clinical impact for patients. The Company plans to attack core issues affecting radiopharmaceuticals today through innovative research that targets the treatments of tomorrow. We are comprised of a team of fast-moving entrepreneurs and scientists with a demonstrated track record in the life sciences, as well as radioisotope research and clinical development.

Source: Press Release EZAG
Eckert & Ziegler and Full-Life Technologies Sign Actinium-225 Supply Agreement for Next Generation Radiopharmaceuticals

Research / 18.01.2024
Third ERC Grant for Gaetano Gargiulo

Dr Gaetano Gargiulo (Photo: David Ausserhofer, Max Delbrück Center)
Dr Gaetano Gargiulo (Photo: David Ausserhofer, Max Delbrück Center)

Cell-based immunotherapies, particularly lab-produced immune cells known as CAR T cells, show promise in treating various cancers. But how do we produce effective ones? Gaetano Gargiulo from the Max Delbrück Center will develop a novel screening tool, supported by an ERC Proof of Concept Grant.

Dr Gaetano Gargiulo, head of the Molecular Oncology Lab at the Max Delbrück Center, and his team are working on a screening tool that distinguishes between cell states of CAR T cells when they are either very effective at killing cancer cells or exhausted. The European Research Council is supporting the initial steps toward commercialization with a Proof of Concept (PoC) Grant of €150,000. Gargiulo is among 240 researchers from across Europe who received such funding in last year’s three competition rounds. The ERC announced 102 PoC grants on January 18th, paving the way for the researchers to translate their pioneering findings into broadly applicable solutions.

After a Starting Grant in 2016 and a Proof of Concept Grant in 2022, this is his third ERC Grant. “I am privileged to be continuously supported by European Research Council,” says Gargiulo. “We were blessed with an ERC Starting Grant in the past and created a very flexible technology to study how cancer cells change their state to become worse. We realized that we can also use it to improve immune cells that we genetically engineer to combat cancer. This funding instrument gives us the momentum to tap into this lead.”

Some T cells fall short – for many reasons

CAR T-cell therapies are often a last resort for patients with certain types of leukemia and lymphoma who do not respond to standard treatments – and new versions of these cell-based immunotherapies are being developed for solid tumors as well. This technique involves taking immune cells (T cells) from the patient and equipping them with a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) in the laboratory. The CAR acts like a tiny antenna, patrolling the body’s cells for specific features on the cancer cells (antigens). Once the CAR T cells are re-introduced back into the patient’s body, they begin to detect and destroy cancer cells with the antigen that fits their new receptors.

However, stumbling blocks such as the intricate manufacturing process, excessive exposure to antigens, the harsh environment within a tumor and in its immediate neighborhood can result in T cells that fall short, hampering their efficacy against both blood cancers and solid tumors. The manufacturing process itself is also very expensive, on the order of hundreds of thousands of Euros, so even minimal modifications to the process that might make it more efficient in producing effective CAR T cells could make this approach more sustainable and available to more patients.

Screening and reversing dysfunction

With the ERC Proof of Concept Grant, the Gargiulo Lab aims to create and validate a novel tool to improve the quality of T cell products in the lab. It's called SynT, a synthetic reporter system designed to indicate different cell states that either render T cells dysfunctional or that represent a potent “serial killer” mode. These cell states are detected by lab-engineered segments of DNA that switches a fluorescent protein on or off (named synthetic locus control region or sLCR). Depending on which sLCR is turned on, the cells glow in a different color when observed under a fluorescence microscope. With a fast microscope and robotic platform, the team can test hundreds of conditions in parallel, to find those that enhance the “serial killer” mode.

“This screening can help us to pinpoint signaling pathways or pharmacological agents that can boost functional CAR T cells and reverse dysfunction. SynT will help us better understand the process of cell bioengineering that underlies cell therapy for cancer, and potentially to improve the manufacturing to increase activity and reduce costs,” says Gargiulo. “Ultimately, these advances can make CAR T cell therapies even more effective.”

Engineered immune cells (shown as small round magenta dots) surrounding brain tumor cells with distinct identities as revealed by a dual synthetic DNA-driven fluorescent reporters (blue & yellow). Photo: Matthias Jürgen Schmitt, Gargiulo Lab, Max Delbrück Center

Source: Press Release Max Delbrück Center
Third ERC Grant for Gaetano Gargiulo

Research, Innovation, Patient care / 09.01.2024
"More Entrepreneurial Thinking in Research"

Photo: Peter Himsel / Max Delbrück Center
Photo: Peter Himsel / Max Delbrück Center

Interview with Professor Maike Sander, Scientific Director of the Max Delbrück Center

How does the Campus Berlin-Buch promote or nurture the successful commercialization of life science knowledge?

At Campus Buch, we do fundamental research in various disciplines, all related to biomedical discovery. This includes research at the Max Delbrück Center, the FMP, but also at the Charité – Universitätsmedizin and the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH). This ecosystem serves as an intellectual incubator for ideas, including medical applications. We have already seen numerous start-ups emerge from basic discoveries at Campus Buch. Much of this work has been collaborative and cross-institutional. The most prominent example is, of course, T-knife which originated as a joint project between the Max Delbrück Center and Charite. T-knife develops T-cell therapies for solid tumors using tailored T-cell receptors. The company started here on Campus Buch and now has a branch in San Francisco. But T-knife is not the only company that has been launched based on research at Campus Buch. Recent spin-offs include MyoPax and CARTemis Therapeutics, both deeply rooted in institutions such as the Max Delbrück Center and the Charité. MyoPax combines cell and gene technology to regenerate and restore muscle function after an accident, in cases of muscle atrophy, or in muscular dystrophy. CARTemis, on the other hand, is pioneering cell-based immunotherapies for cancers that were previously considered untreatable. Campus Buch provides the space and facilities to house these emerging companies in close proximity to the labs that initiated these innovations. This proximity is crucial, especially in the early phase of starting a company.

You are referring to the new BerlinBioCube start-up incubator on Campus Buch. How can it contribute to knowledge transfer and networking between science and business?

The BerlinBioCube enriches the campus in two significant ways. First, it provides space for emerging companies; the impact of having this space next to institutions like the Max Delbrück Center, FMP, Charité, BIH cannot be underestimated. Second, it brings an entrepreneurial mindset to our campus. Scientists are typically not trained to start companies, and there is little knowledge of what investors are looking for or what it will eventually take to bring a new diagnostic or therapy to market. By hosting joint networking events between the scientific institutes on the campus and budding companies in the BerlinBioCube, we can learn from each other and bring more business acumen to the scientists in our institutions.

How can we make spin-offs from research institutions even more attractive?

Researchers are often concerned that founding a company could distract them from their scientific pursuits. Examples in the US and Israel show that this does not need to be so. Often the students and postdocs launch the companies, while the PI moves on to work on the next innovation with the next generation of trainees. As institutions, we can support commercialization by providing additional resources to help PIs adapt their technologies and discoveries to launch a start-up. So, it doesn’t have to be a choice between launching a company or continuing the research.

What can we learn from startup hubs in the USA and Israel/Tel Aviv?

What these hubs have, and what we need to build more of in Berlin and Germany, is a close exchange between scientists, entrepreneurs, and investors. The successful hubs in the US and Israel have a functioning ecosystem where people from these different worlds meet regularly. In our science institutions, we need to bring more of an entrepreneurial mindset to science and scientists. In the U.S., many scientists now earn a dual PhD/MBA. The younger generation of scientists wants to create societal value from their discoveries through commercialization. We can build that here by offering training through our graduate school and other channels. Having BerlinBioCube on the campus will also be a huge asset, because it will nucleate the exchange. Another important component is, of course, investor money. We need to come together as institutions to show international investors how much we have to offer. Science in Berlin and Germany is very strong, so it’s most definitely not a matter of a lack of excellence at the beginning of the pipeline.

How can research benefit even more from proximity to biotech companies?

Networking events will be a huge amplifier. Ultimately, it’s all about people learning from each other and inspiring each other.


Research, Innovation, Patient care / 08.01.2024
Eckert & Ziegler and ARTBIO Announce Manufacturing and Supply Partnership for Lead-212 Conjugates

Berlin, Germany and Cambridge, Mass., – 8 January 2024 – Eckert & Ziegler (ISIN DE0005659700, SDAX) and ARTBIO, Inc. (ARTBIO), a clinical-stage biotechnology company specializing in the development of a new class of alpha radioligand therapies (ARTs), have entered into a strategic manufacturing and supply agreement. Under the collaboration Eckert & Ziegler will support ARTBIO to establish manufacturing and delivery of its pipeline therapies using its proprietary AlphaDirectTM Lead-212 (Pb-212) isolation technology.

The collaboration aims to expedite the development of Lead-212 based alpha radioligand therapies, starting with the clinical development of ARTBIO’s lead asset of AB001 in prostate cancer. Initially focussing on the US market and utilizing Eckert & Ziegler’s facilities in Boston, both companies plan to evaluate a global operations expansion at a later stage. Besides the US, Eckert & Ziegler’s global CMO service network includes manufacturing sites in Berlin, Germany and Jintan, China.

The radioisotope Lead-212 is an alpha precursor used as an active substance in cancer treatment. As part of a radiopharmaceutical product, the radioisotope enables precision treatment of tumor cells, while minimizing the damage to healthy adjacent tissue. With several studies ongoing, Pb-212-labeled compounds represent one of the most promising therapeutic approaches in nuclear medicine.

"We are excited to collaborate with ARTBIO in this transformative venture,” stated Dr. Harald Hasselmann, CEO of Eckert & Ziegler. ”By combining Eckert & Ziegler's expertise in radiopharmaceutical manufacturing with ARTBIO's innovative approach to therapeutic solutions, we are poised to make substantial progress in advancing Lead-212 based alpha therapies."

"We are pleased to partner with Eckert & Ziegler to expand our distributed manufacturing network in order to reliably and efficiently deliver alpha radioligand therapies to patients," said Conrad Wueller, Director, Strategy and Operations at ARTBIO. "Eckert & Ziegler's vast experience and global footprint in radiopharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution will be critical as we advance our pipeline and aim to get our therapeutic candidates to people who need them most."

About Eckert & Ziegler
Eckert & Ziegler Strahlen- und Medizintechnik AG with more than 1.000 employees is a leading specialist for isotope-related components in nuclear medicine and radiation therapy. The company offers a broad range of services and products for the radiopharmaceutical industry, from early development work to contract manufacturing and distribution. Eckert & Ziegler shares (ISIN DE0005659700) are listed in the SDAX index of Deutsche Börse.
Contributing to saving lives.

ARTBIO is a clinical-stage radiopharmaceutical company redefining cancer care by creating a new class of alpha radioligand therapies (ARTs). The unique ARTBIO approach selects the optimal alpha-precursor isotope (Pb-212) and tumor-specific targets to create therapeutics with the potential for highest efficacy and safety.  The company's AlphaDirectTM technology, a first-of-its-kind Pb-212 isolation method, enables a distributed manufacturing approach for the reliable production and delivery of ARTs. ARTBIO is advancing three pipeline programs with lead program AB001 currently in first in human trials. ARTBIO is shaped by a long-standing scientific legacy with nearly a century of pioneering work in radiation therapy conducted at the University of Oslo and Norway's Radium Hospital.

Research, Innovation, Patient care / 02.01.2024
New agent regulates serotonin production

Radoslaw Wesolowski (left), Michael Bader (center) and Dr. Edgar Specker have teamed up to develop a potential therapeutic agent that influences serotonin levels. © Peter Himsel, Campus Berlin-Buch GmbH
Radoslaw Wesolowski (left), Michael Bader (center) and Dr. Edgar Specker have teamed up to develop a potential therapeutic agent that influences serotonin levels. © Peter Himsel, Campus Berlin-Buch GmbH

Diseases can emerge when the body’s production of serotonin is out of whack. Researchers led by Michael Bader from the Max Delbrück Center have discovered a therapeutic agent that brings down high levels of this hormone. Their start-up, Trypto Therapeutics, aims to develop the drug for the market.

Serotonin makes you feel good. This neurotransmitter known as the “happiness hormone” regulates mood, sleep, and appetite. It also plays a key role in the gastrointestinal tract, where it is involved in regulating intestinal movement and the release of fluids that are important for the digestion and absorption of nutrients.

But too much serotonin causes health problems. An oversupply of the hormone can disrupt normal bodily functions and trigger various diseases. Professor Michael Bader and Dr. Edgar Specker have developed a drug that specifically lowers serotonin levels. Bader leads the Molecular Biology of Peptide Hormones Lab at the Max Delbrück Center, while Specker heads the Compound Management Core Facility at the Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP). “We have now founded Trypto Therapeutics to bring our new therapeutic agent to the market,” says Bader. Along with the two scientists, biotech entrepreneurs Dirk Pleimes and Dr. Radoslaw Wesolowski are also involved in the new company. Max Delbrück Center and the FMP have an equity stake in the spin-off.

Stopped by the blood-brain barrier

Scientists don’t know exactly why serotonin production gets out of whack. An exception is carcinoid syndrome, a tumor disease in which hormone-producing cells release inordinate amounts of serotonin. Carcinoid syndrome is often associated with diseases like pulmonary hypertension, intestinal diseases, and heart valve fibrosis. However, they can also occur in patients without carcinoid syndrome. As different as these diseases are, elevated serotonin is involved in the development of all of them.

This is where the molecule that Bader and Specker discovered and further developed in the FMP’s compound library comes into play. It is called TPT-004 and inhibits an enzyme found in gastrointestinal tract cells, called tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH), that plays a role in serotonin synthesis. Lower TPH activity means less serotonin circulating through the body. The researchers showed that the administration of TPT-004 improves the health of rats with pulmonary hypertension. They were also able to prove that this molecule cannot cross the blood-brain barrier in mice. This is important because serotonin is also produced in the neurons – a process that should not be blocked because the brain requires the neurotransmitter to function properly.

Venture capital needed to move forward

A great deal of funding has gone into developing the TPH inhibitor so far – through the Max Delbrück Center’s Pre-GoBio funding scheme, through various lines of funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and, most recently, through the Max Delbrück Center’s SPOT spin-off support program. “We’ve received around €4.5 million in total,” says Bader. “But public third-party funding is not enough to take the next step. We need venture capital to do this. That’s why we founded Trypto Therapeutics.”

The scientists first plan to develop a method for producing their therapeutic agent in pure form in sufficient quantities so that it can be used in human clinical trials. They will also carry out a toxicity study in order to investigate the risks and possible side effects of the compound. Only then will it be possible to conduct a phase I clinical trial on a small group of healthy volunteers. “If we successfully complete the phase I trial, we will then decide whether to conduct a subsequent phase II study or sell the whole thing,” says Bader. The researchers initially want to test the drug on patients with pulmonary hypertension. If this works, they want to examine whether TPT-004 helps treat other diseases associated with elevated serotonin levels. Their development pipeline also includes new inhibitors for other enzymes.

Text: Jana Ehrhardt-Joswig

Source: Joint press release of the Max Delbrück Center and the Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP).
New agent regulates serotonin production

economic development / 14.12.2023
Charles River Finalizes Agreement with CELLphenomics, Expanding 3D In Vitro Services for Cancer Therapy Drug Screening

CELLphenomics’ PD3D® tumor model platform will expand Charles River’s portfolio of 3D in vitro testing services

WILMINGTON, Mass. & BERLIN--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 12, 2023-- Charles River Laboratories International, Inc. (NYSE: CRL) today announced that it has entered into an agreement with CELLphenomics, a service-based biotechnology company that is using 3D hydrogel technology to advance the understanding of the tumor microenvironment and predict therapeutic efficacy. This enhanced offering will provide Charles River clients with access to CELLphenomics’ proprietary 3D tumor model platform, PD3D®, expanding Charles River’s 3D in vitro testing services to further optimize oncological approaches for its clients.

CELLphenomics’ core competency is the establishment and cultivation of complex patient-derived 3D cell culture models (PD3D) from various solid tumor tissues. These highly reliable, well-annotated and predictive preclinical PD3D models robustly recapitulate the biological properties of the donor tissue, including key histopathological features and genomic makeup. They are a powerful tool for disease modeling, biomarker and drug discovery.

CELLphenomics’ continuously growing biobank comprises more than 500 complex in vitro models from more than 20 tumor entities, and offers the world’s largest collection of complex in vitro models of rare and ultra-rare tumors like sarcomas or thymomas.

CELLphenomics has developed a custom mid-throughput screening platform that blends complex cell culture models with advanced automation and a streamlined analysis pipeline. The proprietary, precision medicine PD3D platform offers mid-throughput efficacy testing, drug combination screening, toxicity profiling, target validation, drug sensitivity correlation with clinical response, and biomarker identification.

Charles River offers a range of cancer cell-based assays, including patient-derived xenograft (PDX) assays and assays representing the entire tumor microenvironment (TME), so therapies are not only tested for their effect on real patient materials, but also their interaction with the human immune systems. Leveraging CELLphenomics technology, Charles River will now have a novel in vitro option for identifying therapeutics for rare and ultra-rare disease types.

The agreement will also provide CELLphenomics access to Charles River’s genomically annotated and in vivo characterized cancer model database to develop PD3D models. The database is comprised of more than 700 tumor models, including PDX, cell lines and cell line-derived xenografts (CDX). These models have been extensively profiled for histological features, molecular data, and sensitivity to standard-of-care compounds, allowing a precise selection of suitable tumor models for preclinical anti-cancer agent testing. The biological advantages of PDX include the retention of histological and genetic characteristics of the donor tumor and the preservation of cell-autonomous heterogeneity. The merge of both biobanks will significantly increase the translational relevance of the in vitro and in vivo platforms offered by CELLphenomics and Charles River.

Approved Quotes

“The field of 3D in vitro services for oncology research is rapidly developing. We’re excited for the integration of CELLphenomics’ tumor model platform into our existing portfolio of products and services.” – Aidan Synnott, Corporate Vice President, Global Discovery Services, Charles River

“Our clients will benefit from this enhanced offering, but ultimately, our work will benefit patients who desperately need new treatments for cancer.” – Julia Schueler, PhD, Research Director and Therapeutic Area Lead, Oncology, Charles River

“This agreement allows us full access to Charles River’s impressive biobank and data. Now we can provide them with high quality models of the same genomic background through the entire preclinical development process – literally for any solid tumor type. From large high-throughput in vitro screens to selected PDX models, with Charles River as our partner, we can ensure an even more swiftly developmental process for novel anti-cancer drugs. Together, we make our customers’ compounds work.” –Dr. Christian Regenbrecht, CEO, CELLphenomics

About Charles River
Charles River provides essential products and services to help pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, government agencies and leading academic institutions around the globe accelerate their research and drug development efforts. Our dedicated employees are focused on providing clients with exactly what they need to improve and expedite the discovery, early-stage development and safe manufacture of new therapies for the patients who need them. To learn more about our unique portfolio and breadth of services, visit

About CELLphenomics
CELLphenomics establishes and cultivates complex patient-derived 3D cell culture models (PD3D®) from various solid tumor tissues. The company’s in vitro services combine wet-lab biology, automation and high throughput screening directly on patient samples to help predict responses to potential therapies, and ultimately determine which drugs or drug combinations will be most effective for specific types of cancers, visit:

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Research, Education / 30.11.2023
What do scientists actually do in the lab?

© Marie Burns, Max Delbrück Center
© Marie Burns, Max Delbrück Center

Grizzly bears in hibernation or a pineapple in an MRI scanner – at the “Science Day” at the “Robert Havemann” high school in Berlin-Karow, researchers from the Max Delbrück Center presented students of grades 11 and 12 unusual facets of their research.

Marine, sports journalist or engineer – some students know exactly what they want to do after graduating from high school. Others still find it difficult to choose a career or field of study. To give them an insight into the world of science, researchers presented their career paths and work at the Robert Havemann high school at the end of November. Professor Thoralf Niendorf, head of the “Experimental Ultrahigh-Field MR” lab at the Max Delbrück Center, and Professor Michael Gotthardt, head of the “Translational Cardiology and Functional Genomics” lab, also participated.

Google Maps for health – only better” is how Thoralf Niendorf describes what modern imaging techniques can do for our health. A map of our body that integrates information from the anatomical to the molecular level. This data allows for conclusions regarding blood flow or metabolic processes in tissue, for example, and not only improves diagnostics, but also enables predictions about the health of the person being examined. Niendorf and his team aim to improve magnetic resonance technology and the analysis of complex data using artificial intelligence.

For testing purposes, they like to put unusual objects in the MRI scanner – such as a pineapple. But the researcher has also brought actual case studies on the heart, brain and eye and encourages the students to guess what they can see. They are fascinated by the sometimes moving images and have lots of questions. “We would like to inspire curiosity and provide information about the wide range of career opportunities in science,” says Thoralf Niendorf. Engineers, technical assistants, programmers, an efficient administration – cutting-edge research needs bright minds with different talents.

Finding reliable information

Down the hall, Michael Gotthardt shares with the students what his team is doing in the lab. The long-time mentor for young scientists analyzes cardiovascular and muscle diseases. He also works with unusual model organisms – pythons that can enlarge their hearts for a short time after devouring their prey, or grizzly bears that hardly lose any muscle mass despite hibernating for months. “If we understand which molecular processes grant these animals their characteristics, we could use the findings to improve human health,” he says.

The students are intrigued, want to know what day-to-day work in biomedical research looks like and how to become a professor. Gotthardt answers patiently and gives advice. Above all, he is interested in addressing the big questions: How does the scientific process work? How is a new drug developed? How do students find reliable information to make decisions about their own health? He wants to leave them with something that illustrates the importance of science for their own lives – as a career opportunity and beyond.

Text: Marie Burns

Research / 30.11.2023
Heart repair via neuroimmune crosstalk

© Onur Apaydin, Max Delbrück Center
© Onur Apaydin, Max Delbrück Center

Unlike humans, zebrafish can completely regenerate their hearts after injury. They owe this ability to the interaction between their nervous and immune systems, as researchers led by Suphansa Sawamiphak from the Max Delbrück Center now report in the journal “Developmental Cell.”

Each year, more than 300,000 people in Germany have a myocardial infarction – the technical term for heart attack. The number of people surviving a heart attack has increased significantly, but this severe cardiac event causes irreparable damage to their hearts. A heart attack occurs when blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart muscle become blocked, causing part of the heart muscle tissue to die. This damage is permanent because the human heart has no ability to grow new heart muscle cells. Instead, connective tissue cells known as fibroblasts migrate into the damaged area of the heart muscle. They form scar tissue that weakens the pumping power of the heart. Previous attempts to use stem cells to treat infarction-damaged hearts have not been very successful.

The team led by Dr. Suphansa Sawamiphak, head of the Cardiovascular-Hematopoietic Interaction Lab at the Max Delbrück Center, is looking at the process from a different angle. “We know that both signals from the autonomic nervous system and the immune system play a pivotal role in scarring and regeneration,” says Sawamiphak. “So it stands to reason that the communication between the autonomic nervous and immune systems determines whether heart muscle scarring will occur or whether the heart muscle can recover.” It is also known that macrophages play a role in both processes. But how is this decision made?

To address this question, the researchers are studying zebrafish larvae. The fish can be easily modified and are also optically transparent, making internal processes easy to observe in the living organism. “Plus, they can fully regenerate their heart after an injury,” says Onur Apaydin, first author of the study published in “Developmental Cell.”

Signaling for regeneration

The researchers used zebrafish larvae whose heart muscle cells produce a fluorescent substance, making it easy to detect them under a microscope. They then induced an injury similar to a myocardial infarction in the larval hearts and blocked several receptors on the surface of the macrophages. The result was that adrenergic signals from the autonomic nervous system determined whether the macrophages multiplied and migrated into the damaged site. These signals also played an important role in regenerating heart muscle tissue.

In the next step, the researchers engineered genetically modified zebrafish in which the adrenergic signal reached the macrophages but could not be transmitted from the receptor into the cell’s interior. “This showed that signal transmission is crucial for heart regeneration,” says Apaydin. If signaling is interrupted, the scarring process is triggered instead.

“Our findings indicate that this is a key regulator of crosstalk between the nervous and immune systems,” says Apaydin. When macrophages are activated by the adrenergic signals of the autonomic nervous system, they in turn communicate with fibroblasts. Fibroblasts that promote regeneration alter the extracellular matrix at the damaged site. This ultimately creates a microenvironment conducive to the growth of blood and lymph vessels and to the development of new heart vessels. If, on the other hand, the signal is blocked, fibroblasts infiltrate the site and cause scarring – similar to what occurs in the human heart after a heart attack.

“We next want to examine in detail how signaling differs between zebrafish and humans,” says Sawamiphak. “This will help us understand why heart muscle tissue is unable to regenerate in humans.” The team also hopes to identify potential targets for influencing the interaction between the nervous and immune systems in a way that promotes the regeneration of heart muscle tissue and the maintenance of heart function in heart attack patients.

Cryoinjured section of a zebrafish heart: Immunofluorescence staining elucidates cellular and extracellular compositions pivotal for cardiac repair. All cell nuclei are seen in blue, while the red stain delineates cardiomyocytes. The extracellular matrix, crucial for structural integrity and signaling, is highlighted in green. Cyan staining reveals neurons, underscoring the neuro-cardiac interactions during regeneration.

© Onur Apaydin, Max Delbrück Center

Source: Press Release Max Delbrück Center
Heart repair via neuroimmune crosstalk


economic development / 23.11.2023
Berlin Cures advances fight against Long COVID on a pan-European level

Berlin Cures, a biotechnology company specialized in neutralizing functional autoantibodies (fAABs), is expanding its Phase II clinical trial into a pan-European, multi-center collaboration in the fight against Long COVID. A total of 12 sites in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Finland and Spain are working to advance clinical research into this escalating global health problem. Additional trial sites in Switzerland, Spain and Germany are expected to soon follow. First results of the Phase II trial are expected in 2024. In the event of positive results, Berlin Cures is aiming for a larger Phase III study, which is a prerequisite for the approval of BC 007.

“We are delighted to have so many clinical institutions across Europe working with us towards transforming our platform technology into a therapeutic solution for millions of patients,” says Oliver von Stein, CEO of Berlin Cures. “As we intensify our efforts on a multinational scale, we’re aiming to provide a solution for Long COVID as well as to redefine the approach to multiple other fAAB-associated diseases such as heart failure or glaucoma. This pan-European collaboration symbolizes a united front against an urgent health crisis and underscores our dedication to innovation and impactful science.”

The expansion of the study to five countries across Europe marks an important step in the multinational approach of Berlin Cures’ Phase II trial BLOC. The study will provide meaningful and robust results on the efficacy and tolerability of the company’s lead drug candidate BC 007 in Long COVID patients.

As a platform technology, BC 007 has the potential to cure different autoimmune diseases by targeting fAABs as their root cause. The compound functions similarly to an antibody, binding and neutralizing harmful fAABs. In Long COVID, a considerable proportion of the diseases are due to the presence of fAABs. Berlin Cures aims to pioneer the development of a treatment based on BC 007 that addresses the core of fAAB-associated diseases, such as Long COVID, heart failure and glaucoma.

Overview of trial site locations:
Germany: 2x Berlin (recruiting), Cologne (recruiting), Münster (recruiting), Erlangen (active, starts recruiting soon)
Austria: 2x Vienna (recruiting)
Switzerland: Zurich (active, starts recruiting soon), Basel to follow soon
Spain: Valencia (recruiting), Pamplona (recruiting) Madrid (active, starts recruiting soon); Malaga and Seville to follow soon
Finland: Helsinki (active, starts recruiting soon)

All recruiting trial sites and participation criteria can be found on this page on

About Berlin Cures: 
The Berlin Cures team has dedicated over two decades to the research of functional autoantibodies (fAABs) and has successfully identified a molecule capable of effectively neutralizing these. Promising preclinical results have been observed for BC 007. It was found effective in fAAB-positive healthy volunteers during the Phase I study and in heart failure patients in a Phase IIa trial, where it demonstrated long-term autoantibody neutralization after a single dose and significant improvement in cardiac function, with no spontaneous disappearance of autoantibodies in untreated patients. Its potential against Long COVID is indicated by lab data generated using sera from Long COVID patients, and four case studies. By tackling the root cause of fAAB-associated diseases with this unique biotechnology, Berlin Cures emerges as one of the pioneering entities committed to addressing this critical issue at its core.

Since June 2023, Berlin Cures has been absolving a Phase II clinical trial with BC 007 in the indication Long COVID, an acute and escalating global health problem, to obtain meaningful and robust results on efficacy and tolerability of BC 007 with patients suffering from Long COVID.

FGS Global
Tel:      +41 79 678 46 03

Research, Innovation, Patient care / 23.11.2023
First CNS Lymphoma Patient Dosed in Phase I/II PTT101 Study with Yttrium (90Y) Anditixafortide (PentixaTher)

Pentixapharm AG, a developer of innovative radiopharmaceuticals owned by Eckert & Ziegler Strahlen- und Medizintechnik AG (ISIN DE0005659700) today has announced that a first patient has been treated in a dose-finding clinical phase I/II study with Yttrium (90Y) anditixafortide (PentixaTher) at the University Hospital in Essen, Germany.

This study, PTT101 (ClinicalTrials.Gov ID: NCT06132737), is a prospective, open-label dose-escalation, multicenter study to evaluate the safety, tolerability, biodistribution and efficacy of PentixaTher in patients with CNS lymphoma (cancer affecting the central nervous systems). PentixaTher is targeting the CXCR-4 cytokine receptor which is widely expressed in different cancer indications.

Before treatment, patients will be screened with Gallium-68 (68Ga)-based PentixaFor to confirm the presence of the CXCR-4 receptors. If the PET scan turns out to be positive, PentixaTher will be given in various doses to different dose group (in total 9 to 15 patients). The enrollment is planned to last 12 months.

“Previous studies have shown that up to 90% of CNS lymphoma patients overexpress the CXCR4 receptor. We therefore hope that the clinical results in CNS lymphomas with Yttrium (90Y) anditixafortide PentixaTher will show similar outstanding effects on tumor growth as we have observed it in other indications like T-cell lymphomas or Multiple Myelomas” commented Dr. Hakim Bouterfa, Chief Medical Officer at Eckert & Ziegler, and Member of the Board at Pentixapharm AG.

Source: Press Release EZAG
First CNS Lymphoma Patient Dosed in Phase I/II PTT101 Study with Yttrium (90Y) Anditixafortide (PentixaTher)

Innovation / 22.11.2023
Personnel Changes in the Management of Eckert & Ziegler AG

Changes in the Executive Board and Supervisory Board

Dr. Hakim Bouterfa, Executive Board member of Eckert & Ziegler AG and responsible for clinical development, will leave the Executive Board of Eckert & Ziegler AG at the end of the year and in future will concentrate exclusively on his tasks as Executive Board member of the Eckert & Ziegler subsidiary Pentixapharm AG (PTX). There he will be supported by Dr. Dirk Pleimes and Anna Steeger, who have been newly appointed to the Executive Board of Pentixapharm AG. Following the consolidation of all clinical activities of the Eckert & Ziegler Group within or below PTX in recent months and following the decision to split-off PTX from the Group, Eckert & Ziegler AG no longer requires the position for clinical development within the Executive Board.

The founder and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Eckert & Ziegler AG, Dr. Andreas Eckert, will resign from the Supervisory Board in spring 2024 to also join the Executive Board of Pentixapharm AG. He will accompany the announced split-off.

The management of Pentixapharm AG will present an overview of the split-off plans and corresponding measures to the shareholders of Eckert & Ziegler AG on November 27, 2023 at 6 p.m. at the German Equity Forum in Frankfurt,

Source: Press Release EZAG
Personnel Changes in the Management of Eckert & Ziegler AG

Research / 15.11.2023
Lisec-Artz Prize goes to Simon Haas

Simon Haas © Felix Petermann, Max Delbrück Center
Simon Haas © Felix Petermann, Max Delbrück Center

Simon Haas has been awarded the Lisec-Artz Prize, endowed with €10,000, for his single-cell analysis of communication between stem and immune cells in blood cancer. The University of Bonn Foundation established this prize to honor outstanding early-career cancer researchers.

Stem cells constantly replenish the supply of fresh blood cells. If individual cells go down the wrong developmental path during the blood formation process, blood cancer can occur. Immune cells, such as T cells, are present to destroy the suspicious cells. Though not infallible, the tactic is effective as malignant stem cells communicate directly with T cells and signal that something is wrong with them. This previously unknown protective mechanism was discovered by Dr. Simon Haas and his team within the joint research focus “Single Cell Approaches for Personalized Medicine” of the Berlin Institute of Health at Charité (BIH), the Max Delbrück Center, and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. For this and other scientific contributions, Haas has now been awarded the Lisec-Artz Prize.

“Stem cells are very fascinating, but our knowledge of these indefinitely dividing cells is still incomplete. By understanding them better, we will be able to give an important boost to immunotherapy development,” says Haas, who is an award-winning early-career scientist. He moved to Berlin in 2020 after stints at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University in Boston, USA. “Our aim is to intervene as early as possible in the disease process,” he says.

Listening in on cell-to-cell chatter

Immunotherapies seek to enhance the power of the immune system to fight cancer cells. But before inducing their elimination, T cells first have to recognize cancer cells. This often fails because cancer cells suppress the telltale signals or manipulate the T cells using other deceptive tricks. Simon Haas and his team therefore have plans to “listen in” and decipher the communication between stem cells and immune cells. To accomplish this, they will use single-cell analysis tools and develop them further. He and his team are based at the Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology of the Max Delbrück Center (MDC-BIMSB), which provides excellent resources and support for their work.

“Using single-cell biology techniques, we aim to investigate millions of cell pairs from those stem and immune cells that are communicating with each other,” says Haas. “Which signals cause a suspicious cell to be eliminated? Which signals block the immune cells? And since temporal processes also play a key role: Which type of interaction takes place and in which disease stage?” The team wants to uncover which strategies malignant cells use to evade the T cells – and target exactly these interactions. “Ideally,” says Haas, “we will eventually be able to stop the pathological process before blood cancer even develops.”

Text: BIH

Source: Joint press release by the BIH and the Max Delbrück Center
Lisec-Artz Prize goes to Simon Haas


Research / 15.11.2023
Influential in their field

Sofia Forslund, Friedemann Paul, and Nikolaus Rajewsky are among the Highly Cited Researchers 2023. Each year the company Clarivate compiles a "Who's Who" list of highly influential researchers.

When a seminal study is published in a scientific journal, researchers worldwide reference it, citing the work and, in turn, providing a measure of the authors' scientific impact. This is the basis for the "Highly Cited Researchers" list. The ranking includes studies from the past decade that have been cited the most within their respective fields and publication years, representing the top percentile. Clarivate Analytics, a US-based company specializing in bibliometrics and data science, doesn't rely solely on numbers; they combine quantitative and qualitative analyses to compile a "Who's Who" in research.

Approximately one in a thousand researchers makes it onto this prestigious list, and this year 6,849 researchers from 67 countries have achieved this recognition. The majority of them work in the United States of America (2,669), followed by scientists from China (1,275), the United Kingdom (574), and Germany (336) – like Professors Sofia Forslund, Friedemann Paul and Nikolaus Rajewsky.

About our researchers

Sofia Forslund heads a research group at the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC), a joint institution of Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Max Delbrück Center. The data-driven models developed by the Swedish biochemist and bioinformatician illustrate how we and our gut microbiome develop together toward health or disease.

Friedemann Paul is Director of the ECRC. As a neuroimmunologist, he and his team focus on enhancing therapeutics and diagnostics for diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis. Additionally, they participate in an international consortium researching inflammatory processes preceding organ malfunction or damage.

Nikolaus Rajewsky, Director of the Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology at the Max Delbrück Center (MDC-BIMSB), aims to identify diseases using high-throughput single-cell analysis methods, intervening before cellular dysfunctions cause harm. To pave the way for cell-based medicine in Berlin and Europe, he actively works to establish networks at all levels.

Source: Press Release Max Delbrück Center
Influential in their field

Innovation / 14.11.2023
Eckert & Ziegler Establishess German-Chinese Joint Venture with DC Pharma for the Production of Radioisotopes

Insider information pursuant to Article 17 MAR

Eckert & Ziegler (ISIN DE0005659700) strengthens its competitive position in the growth market of China and today signed a 50:50 joint venture agreement with the Chinese pharmaceutical company DongCheng Pharma (DC Pharma).

Eckert & Ziegler will benefit from the cooperation between the two companies above all at its production site in Jintan near Shanghai. Here, the radioisotopes urgently needed for cancer diagnostics and therapy on the growing Chinese market shall be produced and commercialized.

DC Pharma invests € 20 million in the EZAG subsidiary Qi Kang Medical Technology (Changzhou) Co., Ltd. by way of a capital increase and will subsequently hold 50% of the shares.

The joint venture will complete the production facility currently under construction in Jintan and start the production of cyclotron-based isotopes in a first phase. In a second phase, further production lines for radioisotopes such as Lu-177 are to follow.

DC Pharma is one of the leading radiopharmaceutical companies in China with sales of 498 million US$ or 3.6 billion CNY (2022). With its market position, experience in production and sales, it is the ideal partner for Eckert & Ziegler.

Innovation / 14.11.2023
Eckert & Ziegler with Significant Sales Growth in the First Nine Months of 2023

Eckert & Ziegler Strahlen- und Medizintechnik AG (ISIN DE0005659700, SDAX) achieved sales of € 183.9 million in the first nine months of 2023 (previous year: € 165.8 million) and consolidated net income of € 20.3 million (previous year: € 21.7 million). Adjusted for currency losses of € 3.3 million, the nine-month result was around € 2 million higher than the previous year's figure. In addition, there was an increase in expenses for future projects in the field of nuclear medicine diagnostics and therapy.

In the Medical segment, sales of € 82.8 million were around € 17.6 million or 27% higher than in the previous year. The main growth driver continues to be business with pharmaceutical radioisotopes, while sales of laboratory equipment and in the plant engineering division also continued to increase.

At € 101.0 million, the Isotope Products segment generated slightly higher external sales of € 0.5 million than in the first nine months of 2022. The segment's sales thus remained stable.

The forecast for the financial year 2023 published on March 30, 2023 remains unchanged. The Executive Board continues to expect sales of around € 230 million and net income of around € 25 million.

The complete quarterly report can be viewed here:

About Eckert & Ziegler.
Eckert & Ziegler Strahlen- und Medizintechnik AG with more than 1.000 employees is a leading specialist for isotope-related components in nuclear medicine and radiation therapy. The company offers a broad range of services and products for the radiopharmaceutical industry, from early development work to contract manufacturing and distribution. Eckert & Ziegler shares (ISIN DE0005659700) are listed in the SDAX index of Deutsche Börse.

Source: Press Release EZAG

economic development, Innovation / 31.10.2023
Cambrium Secures €8 Million in Seed Funding to Commercialize New Class of Performance Molecules

Seed financing will drive commercial growth for Cambrium’s first product, NovaColl™, and accelerate expansion into new industries

Synthetic biology startup Cambrium announces €8 Million in Seed financing, led by Essential Capital, along with SNR, Valor Equity Partners, and HOF Capital.


The Berlin-based company brings novel molecules with previously unseen functionalities to life, through a technology platform which combines biology and machine learning to supercharge product innovation. With its new class of sustainable, high-performance molecules, Cambrium is transforming the paradigm of toxic petrochemicals and unethical animal ingredients currently found in a staggering majority of consumer products. Bringing brands’ creative visions to reality, their molecules are enabling a new wave of essential products from skincare to apparel and footwear.

Earlier this year, Cambrium successfully launched its first molecular ingredient, NovaColl™. Designed for highly efficacious skincare, NovaColl™ is the only micro-molecular and 100% skin-identical collagen that is available on the market.

The seed funds will be used to translate the early successes of NovaColl™ into lasting impact, as Cambrium’s manufacturing and commercial activities scale towards full replacement of traditional animal-derived collagen. The funding will also accelerate the company’s product pipeline, with molecules for new applications and industries to be launched within the next two years.

Cambrium’s vision for the future is rooted in our biological past. 500 million years ago, increasing oxygen levels in the atmosphere triggered the Cambrian explosion - the largest evolutionary event in Earth’s history. In that period, the emergence of complex molecules transformed life on our planet from simple, single-celled organisms into the diversity and richness of flora and fauna that we see today. CEO Mitchell Duffy believes that Cambrium’s technology can ignite a similar molecular revolution across industries, through a proliferation of materials and products that outperform alternatives while being environmentally friendly.

“We founded Cambrium to accelerate past nature’s innovation cycle, for novel molecules that can quickly scale to material impact,” said Duffy. “I'm proud that we have been able to generate meaningful revenue with a bioindustrial ingredient at such an early, pre-seed stage, and that we’ve won support from the right investors for our next stage of growth.”

Cambrium’s platform is powered by converging advances in AI, automation, and synthetic biology, allowing for the development of innovative biomolecules for consumer applications at an unprecedented rate. Using their highly data-driven and automated approach, the company commercialized its first molecule in less than two years.

"The marriage of synthetic biology and AI is rewriting the playbook for molecular innovation,” said Ron Zori at Essential Capital, which led the funding round. “Cambrium is leading the way in this broader shift to reinvent the building blocks of industry, one molecule at a time. We believe their computational biology platform, as demonstrated by the rapid development and launch of NovaColl™, has the ability to repeatedly translate scientific innovation into high-performance, sustainable molecules supporting a variety of sectors, and we’re thrilled to be part of this journey."

Cambrium has raised €11M to date, with prior funding from Merantix. The company actively seeks vibrant, intrepid and purpose-driven individuals to join their mission to make materials that matter. Roles are available across key commercial, operational, and technical positions, with more information at:

About Cambrium:


Cambrium’s mission is to accelerate the shift towards a bio-based economy using its molecular design technology. Cambrium designs, scales and manufactures novel, high performance molecular building blocks for use in personal care, fashion, and beyond. Cambrium’s interdisciplinary team of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs are on a quest to unlock the power of proteins. Designed at the molecular level, Cambrium’s building blocks provide previously inaccessible functionalities, enabling innovators to create products that are better for people, and the planet.


Innovation / 20.10.2023
Eckert & Ziegler Focuses on Core Competence and Prepares Split-Off of Clinical Assets

The Supervisory Board of Eckert & Ziegler AG (ISIN DE0005659700, SDAX) today has given its approval to the Executive Board to examine and prepare a split-off of up to 100 percent of the shares in the Pentixapharm AG (PTX). In accordance with IFRS 5, the Executive Board will report PTX as a discontinued operation in the 2023 annual financial statements. A separate decision will be taken at a later date on the specific start and the manner of the exit. In accordance with IFRS 5, the Executive Board will report PTX as a discontinued operation in the 2023 annual financial statements. PTX also includes Myelo Therapeutics GmbH.

Given the enormous growth forecast for active pharmaceutical ingredients, which is already reflected in the order intake, Eckert & Ziegler intends to pool its financial resources to expand its global manufacturing capacities. Eckert & Ziegler is thus concentrating on its core competencies in order to further expand its position as a leading supplier of radioisotopes for the production of radiopharmaceuticals.

The forecast for the financial year 2023 remains unchanged.

Source: Press Release EZAG
Eckert & Ziegler AG

Research, Innovation, Patient care, Education / 11.10.2023
Boost for Berlin’s biotech sector

Foto: Peter Himsel, Campus Berlin-Buch GmbH
Foto: Peter Himsel, Campus Berlin-Buch GmbH

Campus Berlin-Buch has a new start-up center: The BerlinBioCube was ceremonially opened on October 11, 2023 in the presence of the Governing Mayor.

Good news for life science start-ups in the capital region: 8,000 square meters of state-of-the-art laboratory and office space have been built on the Science and Technology Campus Berlin-Buch. The new BerlinBioCube incubator was officially inaugurated on October 11, 2023. Over the next few weeks, 14 young companies will move into the building, including spin-offs from the Max Delbrück Center, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, and the Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP). These companies are engaged in the development of innovative gene and cell therapies or novel compounds for the effective treatment of cancer and other common diseases.

At the ceremony, Berlin’s Governing Mayor Kai Wegner, Senator for Economics Franziska Giffey, and Senator for Science Dr. Ina Czyborra emphasized the importance of the Buch research campus and the new incubator. The speeches were followed by tours of the BerlinBioCube and presentations of individual successful start-ups on the campus, such as T-knife, MyoPax, and PROSION Therapeutics.

From science to business

“The BerlinBioCube is an asset to our city. Once again, Berlin is proving to be an innovative location for business, science, and technology – especially for the health and life science industries. Young entrepreneurs benefit from the new incubator on Campus Berlin-Buch. They will be at the forefront of developing new and promising approaches to treating and diagnosing disease. Thanks to the BerlinBioCube, new, cutting-edge, and future-oriented jobs are being created now and in the near future. The inauguration is a good day for the many people in Berlin and around the world who stand to benefit medically from the work being done in Buch,” stated Kai Wegner, Berlin’s Governing Mayor.

Senator for Economics Franziska Giffey commented: “The interplay between science and business, and the city’s vibrant start-up scene provide a strong foundation for our economic growth. We support this development by creating the infrastructure urgently needed for the implementation of innovative ideas and start-ups. The BerlinBioCube in the future location of Buch offers life science start-ups specialized and affordable laboratory space. A total of €48.9 million was invested in the new building, made possible in large part by GRW funds, which my Senate Department uses specifically to boost Berlin’s economic power. This investment strengthens our leading position among biotech locations and is another step on our way to becoming the number one innovation location in Europe.” The senator also emphasized that the state plans to create additional space for growing biotech and medtech companies in the immediate vicinity of the campus.

Senator for Science Dr. Ina Czyborra remarked: “Companies emerge from Campus Berlin-Buch science: The results of excellent research are not only published in high-ranking journals, but also form the basis for patents and innovative, marketable products and services. The groundwork is often the result of decades of research. Examples include T-knife, MyoPax, and PROSION Therapeutics. We are delighted that our funding programs are paving the way for groundbreaking therapeutic approaches to enter the application phase. Another key factor is strong entrepreneurship. In an entrepreneurial culture, scientists have the courage to spin off, break new ground, convince investors, and build a successful team.”

Network for Entrepreneurs

The BerlinBioCube offers state-of-the-art laboratories, offices, shared spaces, and conference rooms on five floors. The concept places emphasis on creating a vibrant building: “Short distances and creative exchange are the hallmarks of the campus. The research buildings are always designed to include spaces that allow for chance encounters. As the building owner, we have created such spaces in the BerlinBioCube to facilitate networking among the founders. The incubator will also host its own ‘Talk in the Cube’ event series, giving the young teams the opportunity to address exciting topics and engage in professional development,” stated Dr. Christina Quensel, Managing Director of Campus Berlin-Buch GmbH. The campus is an ideal environment for building networks and initiating joint projects: Start-ups can benefit from experienced biotech and medtech companies, research facilities, and infrastructure.

The building was designed by the Munich-based architectural firm doranth post architekten. Construction began in September 2020. After three years of construction, the BerlinBioCube was completed in October 2023, marking the end of the BiotechPark’s fourth construction phase.

Campus Berlin-Buch GmbH is now pushing ahead with the development of a five-hectare site in the immediate vicinity of the campus, on Karower Chaussee. “Start-ups grow up, they need production space. Keeping them on campus means securing jobs in Berlin,” remarked Dr. Quensel.


Photo: Senator for Economics Franziska Giffey, Dr. Christina Quensel, Managing Director of Campus Berlin-Buch GmbH (CBB), Kai Wegner, Governing Mayor, Dr. Ina Czyborra, Senator for Science and Dr. Ulrich Scheller, Managing Director of CBB. (Photo: Peter Himsel/CBB)

Innovation, Education / 28.09.2023
Eckert & Ziegler Receives Award for Professional Training

Photo: Ole Bader/Bezirksamt Pankow
Photo: Ole Bader/Bezirksamt Pankow

Eckert & Ziegler AG has been awarded the Pankow 2023 Training Prize for outstanding training quality. The award was presented yesterday at a celebration event by Berlin-Pankow District Mayor Dr. Cordelia Koch.

The jury justified the award with the great commitment to professional training and the special training concept of Eckert & Ziegler AG. The strong cohesion within the trainee team, the individual support of trainees according to their skills and abilities, and the numerous opportunities to be taken on by the Eckert & Ziegler Group after completing their training were also highlighted.

"We are delighted to have received this award for outstanding quality and continuity in training. At the same time, we are full of thanks to all employees involved in training, who have more than earned this award," explains Dr. Harald Hasselmann, Chairman of the Executive Board of Eckert & Ziegler AG and responsible for Human Resources. "I would also like to thank our dedicated trainees, who are the professionals of tomorrow."

Eckert & Ziegler regularly trains industrial clerks, IT specialists for system integration, and chemical laboratory assistants. Training starts on September 1 of each year. Applications are gladly accepted at any time.The Berlin-Pankow Training Prize is awarded annually as part of the Pankow Training Initiative to particularly committed training companies in the Pankow district. Companies can be nominated for the award or apply themselves in four competition categories, sorted by company size. Eckert & Ziegler receives the Pankow 2023 Training Award in the category with over 50 employees.

About Eckert & Ziegler.
Eckert & Ziegler Strahlen- und Medizintechnik AG with more than 1.000 employees is a leading specialist for isotope-related components in nuclear medicine and radiation therapy. The company offers a broad range of services and products for the radiopharmaceutical industry, from early development work to contract manufacturing and distribution. Eckert & Ziegler shares (ISIN DE0005659700) are listed in the SDAX index of Deutsche Börse.
Contributing to saving lives.

Research / 22.09.2023
Starting up with highly promising immunotherapies

The CARTemis Therapeutics GmbH team (from left to right): Armin Rehm, Anthea Wirges, Uta Höpken and Mario Bunse © Felix Petermann, Max Delbrück Center
The CARTemis Therapeutics GmbH team (from left to right): Armin Rehm, Anthea Wirges, Uta Höpken and Mario Bunse © Felix Petermann, Max Delbrück Center

After spending many years researching together, a group of scientists has founded CARTemis Therapeutics, a spin-off from the Max Delbrück Center. Uta Höpken, Armin Rehm, Anthea Wirges, and Mario Bunse want to use novel CAR T-cell therapies to help patients with cancers that are currently untreatable.

Three is the magic number: Working with their labs at the Max Delbrück Center, Dr. Uta Höpken and Dr. Armin Rehm have developed three cell products for potential CAR T-cell therapies to treat cancer. Two of them will shortly enter their first human trials, while the third is at an advanced stage in the lab. To get their three candidate therapies to the point of regulatory approval, Höpken and Rehm have now founded CARTemis Therapeutics GmbH, a spin-off from the Max Delbrück Center. They are joined by Dr. Anthea Wirges and Dr. Mario Bunse, both research associates working with Höpken and Rehm. The two labs have played a crucial role in moving the CAR T-cell candidates through preclinical development. Wirges is the start-up’s CEO.

CAR T-cell therapies are often the last resort for patients with forms of leukemia, myeloma, or lymphoma that do not respond to conventional treatments. The new technique involves taking immune cells (T cells) from the patient and equipping them with a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) in the laboratory. The CAR acts like a tiny antenna, scanning the body’s cells for specific features of cancer cells. Once the CAR T cells are introduced back into the patient’s body, they can detect and destroy cancer cells carrying the antigen that fits their new receptors.

Fighting cancer with specially equipped T cells

The newest CAR from the CARTemis portfolio fights B non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of lymph node cancer. It targets a molecule called CXCR5, which is found on mature lymph node cancer cells and on some helper T cells that encourage tumor growth. This CAR T-cell therapy is set to enter clinical trials next year at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is providing €4.6 million in funding. The second CAR targets BCMA, a protein found on the transformed plasma cells in multiple myeloma. A phase 1/2a trial is likely to begin at the end of the year at the National Center for Tumor Diseases in Dresden. The BMBF is providing €1.3 million in funding.

The third cell product in the pipeline amplifies the effect of CAR T-cell therapies. It is a lab-produced microRNA that downregulates the protein EBAG9 in CAR T cells. This protein acts like a brake, limiting the release of cell toxins that the CAR T cells use to kill tumor cells. Deactivating EBAG9 has two crucial benefits: First, even a small amount of antigen on a tumor cell will trigger a maximum reaction from the CAR T cells. Second, fewer CAR T cells are needed for therapeutic success overall. The researchers are currently developing an optimal vector system that will allow them to start a clinical trial.

“We’ve really put our heart and soul into these cell products,” says Höpken. “We want to do everything we can to get them approved as cancer therapies and make them available to as many patients as possible.” This means they had no choice but to found the spin-off – public funding would only have taken them to the earliest stages of clinical trials. The Max Delbrück Center supported the group on its way to start-up status through the SPOT program, a funding scheme for teams working on commercially promising products. The Helmholtz Association also provided financing from its spin-off fund.

For CEO Wirges, it’s now time to win over investors. The start-up needs venture capital so it can acquire the licenses from the Max Delbrück Center, prepare the phase 2 trials for their CARs, and continue refining their CAR amplifier. It’s all very new territory for the CARTemis team, but it’s exciting: “We’re thrilled that our research will soon be helping patients,” says Wirges.

Text: Jana Ehrhardt-Joswig

Source: News Publication of the Max Delbrück Center
Starting up with highly promising immunotherapies

economic development / 18.09.2023
OMEICOS Therapeutics Provides Update on PMD-OPTION Phase 2a Clinical Study Evaluating OMT-28 in Primary Mitochondrial Disease

OMEICOS, a biopharmaceutical company developing first-in-class small molecule therapeutics based on the profound understanding of omega-3 fatty acid metabolism and physiology, today provided a positive update on the Company’s multi-center, open-label Phase 2a clinical study evaluating its most advanced development program OMT-28 in Primary Mitochondrial Disease (PMD) patients. The PMD-OPTION study, which has begun to enroll patients in the first observational part of the trial, will evaluate safety, tolerability, pharmacodynamics, and signs of efficacy of OMT-28 in PMD patients with myopathy and/or cardiomyopathy and inflammation.

“We are thrilled to announce that the first patients are being enrolled in the study at clinical centers in Italy and Germany. We thank all involved investigators supporting us in our ambitious way forward to bring a novel, first-in-class therapeutic strategy closer to the PMD patient community,” commented Dr. Robert Fischer, CEO/CSO of OMEICOS Therapeutics. “The start of the PMD-OPTION study marks a major milestone in OMEICOS’ strategy to tackle diseases associated with impaired function of the mitochondria. OMT-28 has shown the potential to target a key regulator network for cell metabolism and mitochondrial function, which could translate into benefits for PMD patients and improve their quality of life.”

PMD patients suffer from debilitating and life-threatening health consequences, such as severely limited physical stamina and disease-related changes in the heart and skeletal muscles, as well as associated neurological disorders. In preclinical in vitro and in vivo tests, the positive influence of OMT-28 on mitochondrial function and its impact on inflammatory processes associated with the condition has been demonstrated.

The PMD-OPTION study will recruit up to 32 patients with documented mutations in either mitochondrial tRNA, e.g. MELAS and MERFF mutations, or mtDNA resulting in mitochondrial disease and are suffering from myopathy (muscle weakness and/or exercise intolerance) and/or cardiomyopathy (heart disease). The study design features a 12-week untreated run-in phase, capturing the patients’ natural history and baseline parameters. Subsequently, all patients will receive a 24 mg once-daily dose of OMT-28 for a treatment period of up to 24 weeks. The primary endpoints of the PMD-OPTION study are safety and tolerability of OMT-28, and the response rate of patients showing a reduction of Growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF-15) levels by at least 20% compared to the recorded baseline. The cytokine GDF-15 is produced in response to mitochondrial stress, tissue damage or hypoxia, and is emerging as a key biomarker to detect mitochondrial myopathies and distinguish such cases from other myopathies, including metabolic myopathies. The study will also evaluate a range of secondary and exploratory endpoints to determine the effect of OMT-28 on clinical symptoms, standard functional parameters of physical strength, heart function, quality of life, and key metabolic plasma biomarkers.
More information on the PMD-OPTION study can be found on
OMEICOS Therapeutics has discovered a series of metabolically robust synthetic analogues of omega-3 fatty acid-derived epoxyeicosanoids that have the potential to treat mitochondrial dysfunction, inflammatory, cardiovascular and other diseases. Epoxyeicosanoids activate cell type-specific endogenous pathways that promote organ and tissue protection. OMEICOS’ small molecules are orally available and show improved biological activity and pharmacokinetic properties compared to their natural counterparts. For more, please visit:
OMEICOS Therapeutics GmbH
Dr. Robert Fischer, CEO, CSO
Phone: +49 (0) 30 9489 4810
Media requests
Valency Communications
Mario Brkulj
Phone: +49 (0) 160 93529951



Research, Education / 11.09.2023
The thrill of science

Photo: Felix Petermann, Max Delbrück Center
Photo: Felix Petermann, Max Delbrück Center

Young students are fascinated by the experiments they can participate in at the Gläsernes Labor (Life Science Learning Lab). Thanks to a special fundraiser, socially disadvantaged children from the district of Marzahn-Mitte were able to don lab coats and carry out some thrilling research.

Emilio is in seventh grade and wants to study reptiles when he grows up. He has three geckos and a tortoise, and he is planning to learn Latin in high school to prepare him for a career in science. So a visit to the Gläsernes Labor on Campus Berlin-Buch was the perfect opportunity for Emilio. His friend Damian had asked him if he wanted to come along: “He told me we’d be able to look at the DNA in our spit. That sounded interesting.”

A day in the lab for 48 kids

Emilio and Damian are two of 16 children aged between seven and 14 in this group who usually attend the Marzahn-Mitte youth club JFE FAIR run by the Berlin-Brandenburg branch of the Humanist Association of Germany. Max Delbrück Center employees donated money to finance a trip to the laboratory for the children. “We raised an incredible €1,495,” says Feraye Kocaoglu. “That’s twice as much as our fundraising goal.” Kocaoglu works as an administrative assistant for several research labs at the Max Delbrück Center and regularly organizes fundraisers along with Victoria Malchin, who is responsible for site management at MDC-BIMSB. The money raised paid for two groups of schoolkids – one from JFE FAIR and another from the Elisabethstift children’s home – to spend a day at the Gläsernes Labor getting a taste of what it’s like to work in science. The lab days cost €30 per child, but many families can’t afford that. 

The JFE FAIR youth club offers around 200 children a positive space to spend their free time – learning an instrument, acting, making handicrafts, doing sport, or simply completing their homework. Many of the children come from socially disadvantaged families and rarely get the chance to leave their own neighborhood. The Max Delbrück Center has been donating Christmas gifts to the Elisabethstift for many years now, and two years ago it began doing the same for the Humanist Association. When Kocaoglu and Malchin took the gifts to JFE FAIR in person last year they decided they wanted to enable the children to spend a day at the Gläsernes Labor. They therefore organized the fundraising campaign in collaboration with the Society of Friends of the Max Delbrück Center.

Soap bubbles and DNA strands

“We were delighted to receive the invitation,” says Anika Schmidt, director of JFE FAIR. The day out made a great change for the children, she says. Even the train ride from Marzahn to Buch was a big adventure for them. “We got to know another side to the children and gained an impression of what they are like in a school setting.” The younger children, aged six to nine, had lots of fun experimenting with air, water and soap bubbles. One of the highlights of their investigations was the “tornado in a soda bottle.” To create that, course leader Ilona Kurth takes two empty soda bottles, fills one with water, connects the two bottles with a special seal, and places them on the table with the full bottle on top. As the water trickles down, air bubbles rise up, gradually forming a vortex that spins faster and faster until a mini-tornado forms inside the bottle. 

In the meantime, the ten to 14-year-olds were busy with some onions. Under the instruction of Claudia Jacob, head of the Gläsernes Labor, they peered at pieces of onion skin through a microscope and then carefully drew the cells, their brows furrowed in concentration. Next, they swiped a cotton bud on the inside of their cheek, dabbed the moisture on a microscope slide, and carefully examined the results. They didn’t just see spit – they discovered cells from their own mucus membrane. They drew these too and then compared them with the onion cells. Somehow, human cells appear less spectacular than plant cells – no cell wall, no vacuoles, no chloroplasts. But, Jacob assured them, deep inside the cell nucleus, genetic information is lurking – in their own cells and that of the onion. “We will isolate the DNA after the break,” she said. “But to do that we will use a plum.” In that moment Emilio realized they wouldn’t actually be looking at their own DNA, but he was still excited. A career in science seems more appealing than ever before.

Text: Jana Ehrhardt-Joswig

Source: Max Delbrück Center: The thrill of science

Research, Innovation, Patient care / 07.09.2023
"Drivers for Germany's Future Sustainability"

At the UNIPRENEURS award ceremony; from left to right: Anna Christmann, Simone Spuler, Bettina Stark-Watzinger.  © UNIPRENEURS
At the UNIPRENEURS award ceremony; from left to right: Anna Christmann, Simone Spuler, Bettina Stark-Watzinger. © UNIPRENEURS

The UNIPRENEURS Initiative has recognized the entrepreneurial spirit of 20 professors, among them ECRC researcher Simone Spuler. As a co-founder of the startup MyoPax, she is pioneering stem cell technology to develop regenerative therapies for previously incurable muscle diseases.

The UNIPRENEURS Initiative has honored 20 distinguished professors for their dedication to university spin-offs and their entrepreneurial endeavors. These awardees have made significant contributions to the translation of innovations into the business sphere.

Among the honorees is Professor Simone Spuler. In 2022, the scientist, working at the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC), a joint institution of Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Max Delbrück Center, co-founded MyoPax with Dr. Verena Schöwel-Wolf, a medical doctor. MyoPax is committed to developing regenerative therapies aimed at alleviating the effects of previously incurable muscle diseases. Their innovative approach combines cell and gene therapy to restore muscle tissue function.

The awards ceremony took place on September 6, 2023, at the Allianz Forum near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Distinguished guests such as the Federal Minister for Education and Research, Bettina Stark-Watzinger, and Dr. Anna Christmann, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Start-ups at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, commended the honored professors. "We aim to bolster entrepreneurial activities at our universities. Professors play a pivotal role in this endeavor. They significantly contribute to the culture of entrepreneurship in academia and serve as crucial drivers for Germany's innovation and future sustainability," stated Stark-Watzinger.


UNIPRENEURS is an initiative dedicated to fostering university spin-offs in Germany. It operates under the patronage of the Federal Ministry for Education and Research and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action. In collaboration with partner organizations such as the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft (Donors' Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities in Germany), the Startup Association, Bitkom, and, UNIPRENEURS has established an initiative that recognizes top professors for their outstanding contributions to university spin-offs.

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