No. 22/November 30, 2010

Dr. Oliver Daumke and Dr. Matthias Selbach Named EMBO Young Investigators

Two of the total of seven young researchers in Germany selected to receive Young Investigator grants from the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) come from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch. They are the biochemist and protein crystallographer Dr. Oliver Daumke and the cell biologist and proteomics researcher Dr. Matthias Selbach. Of the 137 applicants, a total of 21 young scientists from 9 European countries and Israel were accepted into the EMBO Young Investigator Programme. Each will receive 15 000 euros per year over the next three years as support to build up their own, independent research groups.

No. 20/November 18, 2010

How Cells React to DNA Damage: MDC Researchers Decode Dual Signaling Pathway for the Activation of the Survival Factor NF-kappaB

Upon damage to the genomic DNA, repair enzymes and gene regulators are activated that determine the fate of the affected cells. Researchers of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, Germany, have now shown how the transcription factor NF-kappaB, which coordinates a cellular survival program, is activated by DNA damage. Dr. Michael Hinz, Dr. Michael Stilmann and Professor Dr. Claus Scheidereit have uncovered a dual signaling pathway which is used for signal transmission. DNA damage-induced NF-kappaB activation is associated with the resistance of cancer cells to radiation and chemotherapy. (Molecular Cell, DOI 10.1016/j.molcel.2010.09.008)*.

No. 21/November 22, 2010

Dr. Oliver Daumke of MDC Wins “Bayer Early Excellence in Science Award” - New strategies for treating diseases and illnesses such as cancer and flu

Biochemist and protein crystallographer Dr. Oliver Daumke of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, Germany, has won the “Bayer Early Excellence in Science Award 2010” in the biology category. He will receive the prize worth EUR 10,000 for his contributions to the understanding of the structure and function of GTP-binding (G) proteins next spring in Berlin. Together with him, two other scientists, Professor Nicolai Cramer (Lausanne, Switzerland) and Dr. Andreas Walther (Helsinki, Finland) will also be honored and receive EUR 10,000 each. G proteins play an important role in cellular signaling pathways and in the defense against infections. The Bayer Foundation presents this award to talented young scientists in the early stages of their academic careers.

No. 19/November 3, 2010

Professor Susan Lindquist from the Whitehead Institute Receives Max Delbrück Medal in Berlin

The American molecular biologist Susan Lindquist from the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, is the 2010 recipient of the Max Delbrück Medal awarded in Berlin, Germany. Lindquist, who is also a biology professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was honored for her work on protein folding.

No. 18/October 29, 2010

New Insights into the Development of Epithelial Cells

Scientists of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch and the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC) of MDC and Charité in Berlin-Buch have gained new insights into the development of epithelial cells and their molecular repertoire. Dr. Max Werth, Katharina Walentin and Professor Kai Schmidt-Ott have identified a transcription factor (grainyhead-like 2, Grhl2), which regulates the composition of the molecular “bridges” that link adjacent epithelial cells. The authors were able to demonstrate that Grhl2, via DNA-binding, directly regulates the expression of two such cell junctional molecules, E-cadherin and claudin 4. (Development, doi:10.1242/dev.055483)*.

No. 17/October 28, 2010

Professor Nikolaus Rajewsky becomes EMBO-Member

Systems biologist Professor Nikolaus Rajewsky from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, Germany, has been elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO). He is one of 63 life scientists from eleven European countries and also from Japan, Taiwan and the USA who were recognised by EMBO for their excellence in research this year. According to EMBO they join almost 1500 of the world`s leading molecular biologists.

No. 16/October 22, 2010

Two Researchers from MDC and Charité receive Million Euro Starting Grants from the European Research Council

Two European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grants worth almost one and a half million euros each over the next five years have been awarded to two researchers from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch and the Charité - Universitätsmedizin, Berlin in Germany. American Diabetes researcher Dr. Matthew Poy and British neuroscientist Dr. James Poulet, belong to the 427 researchers the ERC has chosen from more than 2873 applicants this year.


No. 15/ September 22, 2010

New Findings on Multiple Sclerosis - Immune Cells Also Attack Neurons Directly

Researchers in Germany have gained new insight into how the immune system causes damage associated with multiple sclerosis (MS), an incurable neuroinflammatory disorder. Using imaging tools which enable investigation of processes in living organisms, they were able to show a direct interaction between immune cells and neurons which plays a significant role in neuronal injury. However, this direct interaction may respond to therapeutic intervention. The study by Dr. Volker Siffrin and Professor Dr. Frauke Zipp (formerly Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, MDC, Berlin-Buch, now University Medical Center Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz) has now been published in the journal Immunity (DOI 10.1016/j.immuni.2010.08.018)*.

No. 14/August 6, 2010

More Cancer-Fighting Power – Mouse with Highly Effective Components of the Human Immune System - Ten Years of Developmental Work by MDC and Charité Researchers

How can the immune system be made more potent against cancer? To solve this crucial question, Dr. Liang-Ping Li and Professor Thomas Blankenstein of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin in Germany have dedicated ten years of research to develop a new method. The researchers modified T cell receptors (TCRs), the antenna-like structures of T cells, so that they would no longer ignore cancer cells, but instead specifically track and recognize them. This modification is the precondition for the immune system to destroy cancer cells. The researchers developed a mouse with a whole repertoire of these human T cell receptors (Nature Medicine, doi: 10.1038/nm.2197)* with the aim of utilizing these receptors in the future for targeted immunotherapy in patients.

No. 13/July 6, 2010

Neural Stem Cells Attack Glioblastoma Cells

In their latest research, scientists of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, Germany, have demonstrated how the brain’s own stem cells and precursor cells control the growth of glioblastomas. Of all brain tumors, glioblastomas are among the most common and most aggressive. Dr. Sridhar Reddy Chirasani, Professor Helmut Kettenmann and Dr. Rainer Glass (all MDC) and Dr. Michael Synowitz (Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin) have now shown in cell culture and mouse model experiments just how the body’s own protective mechanism they identified in an earlier study, actually works (Brain, July 6, 2010, doi:10.1093/brain/awq128)*.

No. 12/June 15, 2010

FMP and MDC Researchers Identify a Fundamental Process in Lysosomal Function and Protein Degradation - Disorder Leads to Serious Diseases


The degradation of proteins and other macromolecules in cells is vital to survival. Disruption of this process can result in serious disease. The research group of Professor Thomas Jentsch (Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology, FMP/ Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, MDC, Berlin-Buch) has now succeeded in identifying an essential cellular process necessary for the transport and degradation of macromolecules in endosomes and lysosomes, respectively. In two studies published in the same issue of the journal Science, they showed that – contrary to scientific consensus –the function of these tiny cell organelles not only depends on the pH, but also on chloride ion accumulation in their interior (Science 11 June 2010, Vol. 328. no. 5984, pp. 1398-1401; DOI: 10.1126/science.1188070; pp. 1401-1403, DOI: 10.1126/science.1188072; originally published in Science Express on 29 April 2010)*.

No. 11/April 30, 2010

No. 10/April 27, 2010

A Clamp for Emerging Flu Viruses - Researchers in Freiburg and Berlin Unravel Secret of Innate Immune Response


When the human body becomes infected with new influenza viruses, the immune system rapidly activates an inborn protective mechanism to inhibit the intruding pathogen. A protein known as Mx plays an important role in this process, keeping the spread of viruses in check. Exactly how Mx accomplishes this task was previously unknown. Now virologists from the Institute of Medical Microbiology at the Freiburg University Medical Center and biochemists from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in Berlin-Buch, Germany, have unraveled the structure of the Mx protein and are able to explain how it develops its anti-viral effect (Nature, doi: 10.1038/nature08972)*.

No. 9/March 23, 2010

Analytica Research Prize for Dr. Matthias Selbach of MDC - New Method for Measuring the Production of Thousands of Proteins


Dr. Matthias Selbach, biologist at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, Germany, has been honored with the Analytica Research Prize 2010 in an award ceremony at the Analytica 2010 trade fair in Munich. Dr. Selbach received the prize, which is endowed with 25 000 euros, for his work on “the impact of microRNAs on protein production in cancer cells” on March 23, 2010. The prize is awarded by the Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (GBM) and funded by Roche.

No. 8/March 16, 2010

Two at One Stroke – How Cells Protect Themselves from Cancer

New Findings of MDC and Charité Researchers


Cells have two different protection programs to safeguard them from getting out of control under stress and from dividing without stopping and developing cancer. Until now, researchers assumed that these protective systems were prompted separately from each other. Now for the first time, using an animal model for lymphoma, cancer researchers of the Max Delbrück Center (MDC) Berlin-Buch and the Charité – University Hospital Berlin in Germany have shown that these two protection programs work together through an interaction with normal immune cells to prevent tumors. The findings of Dr. Maurice Reimann and his colleagues in the research group led by Professor Clemens Schmitt may be of fundamental importance in the fight against cancer (Cancer Cell, Vol. 17, Issue 3, 16 March 2010, pp. 262-272; DOI 10.1016/j.ccr.2009.12.043)*.

No. 7/February 18, 2010

MDC Researchers Link Protein Tether to Touch Perception - Tiny Protein Filament Opens and Closes Ion Channels

Humans and animals are able to perceive even the slightest vibration and touch of the skin. Mechanosensitive ion channels play a crucial role in the mediation of these sensations. Ion channels are pores in the cell membrane which are highly responsive to external signals. Mechanosensitive ion channels open at the slightest vibration and allow ions (electrically charged particles), to cross the cell membrane, which causes an electrical current until the channel closes again. Until now it was unclear how the ion channels were opened. Dr. Jing Hu and Professor Gary Lewin of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, Germany, have now discovered the presence of a protein filament that causes the ion channels to open and shut like a tethered gate (EMBO Journal,Vol. 29, No. 4, pp 855-867; doi: 10.1038/emboj.2009.398)*.

No. 6/February 10, 2010

MDC Researchers Develop New Tool to Investigate Ion Channels - Application of Neurotoxins of Cone Snails and Spiders


Neurotoxins from cone snails and spiders help neurobiologists Sebastian Auer, Annika S. Stürzebecher and Dr. Ines Ibañez-Tallon of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, Germany, to investigate the function of ion channels in neurons. Ion channels in the cell membrane enable cells to communicate with their environment and are therefore of vital importance. The MDC researchers have developed a system which for the first time allows the targeted, long-lasting investigation of ion channel function in mammals and also the blockade of the ion channels with neurotoxins. In transgenic mice they succeeded in blocking chronic pain by introducing a toxin gene into the organism (Nature Method, doi:10.1038/NMETH.1425)*.

No. 5/February 8, 2010

New Research Report of the Max Delbrück Center Published - Professor Rosenthal: “Rapid Technological Development, Opportunities, and Research Challenges”

The Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch has published its new research report. In the 284-page book, 54 research groups at the MDC give an overview of their work in 2008 and 2009. Research at the MDC focuses on cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders, cancer, and neurosciences. However, as MDC Director, Professor Walter Rosenthal clearly pointed out in his introduction: “Research at MDC is not limited to individual organs or diseases. Molecular research almost always transcends disciplinary barriers. This state-of-affairs has become particularly clear through the new research approaches such as systems biology, a discipline that investigates biological processes in a holistic context in cells, tissues, and whole organisms”.

No. 4/January 21, 2010

Berlin Science Award for Professor Nikolaus Rajewsky of MDC

Systems biologist Professor Nikolaus Rajewsky of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch in Germany has been named recipient of the Science Award of the Governing Mayor of Berlin in recognition of his “outstanding research achievements, the implementation of which can contribute to solutions for problems relevant to science and society”. The award is endowed with 40 000 euros and goes to the MDC, the institution where the research was carried out. The Young Scientist Award went to Dr. Vera Beyer, Free University of Berlin. Both awards were presented during the opening ceremony of Science Year 2010 in the Berlin Concert House. The laudatory speeches were held by Professor Günter Stock, president of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, for the Science Award and Professor Jutta Allmendinger, president of the Social Science Research Center Berlin, for the Young Scientist Award.

No. 3/January 19, 2010

“Sleeping Beauty” – Molecule of the Year

The jumping gene or “Sleeping Beauty” transposon is “Molecule of the Year 2009”. This was announced by Professor Isidro T. Savillo, President of the International Society for Molecular and Cell Biology and Biotechnology Protocols and Researches (ISMCBBPR). The transposon was generated by Dr. Zsuzsanna Izsvák, Dr. Zoltán Ivics and Dr. Lajos Mátés of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin-Buch together with scientists from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. According to the jury, it was selected out of 15 molecules nominated in the contest because “this molecule holds great promise for gene therapy”. The jury pointed out that it can stably transfer genes even to stem or progenitor cells and is safer than a viral vector. It is the first time that the Molecule of the Year has been awarded to major recipients outside the USA in Europe.

No. 1/January 11, 2010

Sealed Off

The cerebral ventricles filled with fluid act like shock absorbers, protecting the brain against damage from concussion or blows. Researchers of the Max Delbrück Center (MDC) and the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology (FMP) in Berlin-Buch have now demonstrated how these brain ventricles develop prior to the establishment of the blood-brain barrier in zebrafish. One specific protein (Claudin5a) is decisive for this development. It forms a barrier between the nervous tissue and the ventricles. If Claudin5a is absent, the ventricles cannot expand and the brain morphogenesis of the animals is disrupted. According to the researchers, these insights can be used for tests on the penetrability of drugs into the brain. (PNAS, doi:10.1073/pnas.0911996107)*.

No. 2/January 11, 2010

New Insights into the Control of Cellular Protein Production

Researchers of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, Germany, have gained new insights into the control of cellular protein production. Experimental analysis of genetically modified mice revealed that an evolutionary conserved regulatory mechanism of protein production plays an important role in highly developed mammals. The mouse-model findings of Dr. Klaus Wethmar, Professor Achim Leutz and colleagues could contribute to the development of new therapies and drugs to combat diseases such as cancer. (Genes & Development, doi: 10.1101/gad.557910).*