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Healing diseases with the help of biotechnology and biomedicine – scientists in Saxony are researching treatment methods of the future

Within just a few years, Saxony has made a name for itself nationally and internationally as a biotechnology location with significant future potential and has become one of the most dynamic biotechnology regions in Europe.

More than 30 excellent university and non-university research institutions, around 200 international working groups, more than 65 biotechnology companies, ten pharmaceutical companies and around 70 innovative service providers with a total of more than 6.000 mostly highly qualified employees shape this Saxon high-tech industry .

On a tour as part of "SPIN2030", a campaign to make the diversity, excellence and attractiveness of Saxony a state of science visible, Science Minister Sebastian Gemkow today visited various institutions in Leipzig that conduct excellent research in the field of biotechnology/biomedicine.

After visiting the research facilities in Leipzig, Science Minister Sebastian Gemkow said:
»Saxony recognized the great importance of biotechnology many years ago and invested several hundred million specifically in research. As a result, we now have one of the most powerful and, in some areas, leading research landscapes in the world and, based on this, an important economic sector. Both are constantly growing. We want to continue to support the Biotec cluster and the next big steps are already in preparation - such as the research and transfer hub for drug development at the University of Leipzig. The region has the potential to become one of the world's leading research and development locations in the life sciences and pharmaceutical industries.«

Station 1 – Obesity Research
The  Helmholtz Institute for Metabolism, Obesity and Vascular Research (HI-MAG) in Leipzig, a Helmholtz Munich institute at the University of Leipzig and the University Hospital Leipzig, researches the causes of pathological weight gain and aims to develop new therapeutic options for obesity and the associated complications, such as metabolic and vascular diseases.

Minister Gemkow received insights into current clinical questions that are being researched at the HI-MAG as part of clinical studies and was able to try out some tests himself that are otherwise only offered to test subjects in the HI-MAG study outpatient clinic in the Red House. In the HI-MAG laboratories, the minister was able to look behind the scenes and learn more about how the researchers at the institute use the most modern methods to find out how morbid obesity can occur and what role the brain and fatty tissue play in “obesity” Diseases« play.

Prof. Matthias Blüher, Director of HI-MAG and Head of the Obesity Outpatient Clinic at Leipzig University Hospital, confirmed:
»Leipzig is an ideal location for our research institute. With the close connection to the Leipzig University Medical Center, which is a world-leading location for research into metabolic diseases in humans, and the close cooperation between clinical and basic researchers in Leipzig and Munich, I am sure that there will be significant breakthroughs in the next few years are to be expected in the treatment of obesity and its complications. Our primary goal is to make the latest research findings available to people with metabolic diseases as quickly as possible.«

Station 2 – Cancer Research
The Leipzig University Medicine is based on the three pillars “Research, Teaching, Healing”. With around 3.600 students, the Medical Faculty of the University of Leipzig is the largest training center for human medicine, dentistry, midwifery and the only one for pharmacy in Saxony. The main research areas are: molecular and cellular communication, diseases of the brain and mind, diseases of civilization such as diabetes, arteriosclerosis and obesity, personalized medicine and oncology.

Minister Gemkow visited research laboratories in the José Carreras House, where new methods of leukemia diagnosis are being developed and treatment methods for therapies with fewer side effects are being researched. »We have ideal conditions at Leipzig University Medicine, as the basic research institutes and clinics are located on one site. The results come directly from the research laboratory to be used in practice,” says Prof. Dr. Ingo Bechmann, Dean of the Medical Faculty, and adds: “In various projects, together with cooperation partners, we are developing novel gene and cell therapeutics, so-called “living medicines”. This puts us on the path to the future of personalized medicine.« The Leipzig Medical Biobank (LMB) demonstrated how standardized blood, tissue material and genetic material are collected, processed and stored in order to use them for research projects, such as in immuno-oncology to be able to provide. The state-of-the-art biobank thus bridges the gap between science and research.

Station 3 – Infection research
The  Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI researches and develops special problem solutions at the interfaces of medicine, life sciences and engineering. One of the main tasks is contract research for biotechnological, pharmaceutical and medical technology companies, clinics, diagnostic laboratories and research institutions. The research focus is on developments in the areas of immuno-oncology and infectious pathology. The institute tests and develops novel cell and gene therapies, active ingredients and vaccines as well as diagnostic and analytical procedures.

Research in the field of virology was presented today. In particular, the topics of dengue and West Nile are increasingly of regional importance, as these viruses are also establishing themselves in our latitudes as the climate warms and the first major outbreaks of West Nile are here in the Leipzig/Halle region were registered. This should therefore become a future topic for the location.

The minister also visited a vaccine manufacturing prototype facility and a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) process development laboratory for policies and procedures designed to ensure that products in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and food industries are manufactured in a safe and controlled manner Environment.) Manufacturing processes for modern cell and gene therapeutics, which are currently used primarily in immuno-oncology, are developed here.

PD Dr. Sebastian Ulbert, Deputy Director of the Institute and Head of the Vaccines and Infection Models Department at Fraunhofer IZI, explained on the occasion of the visit: “Infectious diseases represent a global threat to human and animal health. With the infectious pathology research area, we at Fraunhofer IZI are actively contributing to gaining further important insights into their spread, pathogenesis and diagnostic options. We support partners in the development and translation of technologies for the research, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.«

Hintergrund:
A very dense research cluster in the field of biotechnology/life sciences has emerged in Dresden and Leipzig. This comprehensive network, which has been established in less than two decades and is very visible internationally, includes:

in Dresden: Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG),
Center for Systems Biology Dresden (CSBD), the interdisciplinary research center BIOTEC, Center for Regenerative Therapies at TU Dresden (CRTD),
three locations of the German Centers for Health Research (neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, diabetes), the Dresden location of the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) as well as the branch of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS) and the International Graduate School for biomedicine and bioengineering together with the TU Dresden. This also includes the Max Bergmann Center for Biomaterials and the Medical Theoretical Center at the Carl Gustav Carus University Hospital Dresden.

in Leipzig: in addition to the Helmholtz Institute for Metabolism, Obesity and Vascular Research (HI-MAG), the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI and the University of Leipzig with the Innovation Center for Computer-Assisted Surgery (ICCAS), the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Neurosciences (MPI-CBS) and the German Center for Child and Adolescent Health (DZKJ) i. G.

Source: SMWA press release dated October 26.10.2023, XNUMX


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