No. 27 / November 21, 2017

New genes discovered that influence the risk of allergic diseases

The world’s largest study into allergies has shown that the genetic risk factors for atopic dermatitis (eczema), hay fever, and asthma are generally inherited together. The findings of this study by a consortium of researchers, including research groups from the MDC and Charité, have now been published in Nature Genetics. 

No. 26 / November 15, 2017

Gut bacteria are sensitive to salt

Common salt reduces the number of certain lactic acid bacteria in the gut of mice and humans according to a study published in Nature by Berlin’s Max Delbrück Center and Charité. This has an impact on immune cells which are partly responsible for autoimmune diseases and hypertension. Probiotics ameliorate the symptoms of disease in mice.

No. 25 / October 26, 2017

Working together to reduce severe suffering for laboratory animals in Europe

Joint press release by RSPCA and MDC

Major international event in Berlin generates collaboration between 16 countries: The RSPCA and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) are bringing together experts from 16 countries to reduce the number of lab animals experiencing severe suffering. 

No. 24 / October 24, 2017

Study provides more clarity on the genetic causes of children’s food allergies

What role do genes play in egg, milk, and nut allergies? A study published in Nature Communications, led by the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, has found five genetic risk loci that point to the importance of skin and mucous membrane barriers and the immune system in the development of food allergies.

No. 23 / October 16, 2017

MDC receives funding to collaborate on Human Cell Atlas

The Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in Berlin is participating as a research partner in the Human Cell Atlas (HCA). The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has now announced that it will provide financial support for the HCA’s sub-project “Towards a Human Cardiac Cell Atlas.”

No. 22 / October 6, 2017

Preeclampsia triggered by an overdose of gene activity

Preeclampsia is the most dangerous form of hypertension during a pregnancy and can be fatal for both mother and child. Though it is known to originate in the placenta, the root causes remain largely a mystery. An international research team led by the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) has recently published new findings in the scientific journal Circulation, which reveal that preeclampsia is not in fact a single disease caused solely by genetic factors. Their tests on placenta samples have shown that epigenetically regulated genes play an important role. The Berlin research team also developed an in vitro model of the disorder which demonstrates the dysregulation of an important transcription factor.

No. 21 / September 24, 2017

Study of transplanted hearts reveals risk gene for cardiovascular disease

In the largest transcriptome study to date, an international research team analysed the RNA of transplanted hearts and discovered a number of new risk factors for dilated cardiomyopathy and other heart conditions which could thus be recognised more easily in future.

No. 20 / September 8, 2017

A play for all non-biologists

The theater production “EinzigArtig” deals with synthetic biology and the creation of new forms of life. It is was produced in cooperation with the MDC, which hosts the play at September 26 and October 6.

No. 19 / September 5, 2017

Reproducing the computational environments of experiments

Experiments increasingly rely on high-performance computing software that plays a crucial role in producing and interpreting data. Differences in software environments can cause problems when those experiments need to be reproduced – so scientists at the MDC in Berlin are helping find a solution.

No. 18 / August 31, 2017

Reconstructing life at its beginning, cell by cell

In a technological tour de force, Berlin scientists have created a virtual model of an early fly embryo. Its interactive interface allows researchers to explore the blueprint that underlies development at unprecedented spatial resolution and predict which cells express which genes.

No. 17 / August 10, 2017

Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders. 

No. 16 / July 26, 2017

How mice babies ensure mother’s protection

Genetic study identifies neuronal circuits responsible for ultrasonic calls uttered by mouse pups

The calls of new-born mice draw the attention of their mother. A group of neuronal cells in the brain stem, which coordinate exhalation and tension of muscles in the larynx is essential for this process. Without these cells, the mice are mute. These are the results of a study by a research team at the Max Delbrück Center in Berlin, which appears in the journal PNAS. The cries of human babies may well depend on similar connections, which could also be impaired in speech disorders.

No. 15 / July 26, 2017

Biomarkers for identifying Tumor Aggressiveness

A Berlin study of patients with early-stage colon cancer / DNA repair mechanisms and MACC1 gene activity helps determine prognosis and predict response to chemotherapy

No. 14 / July 20, 2017

Largest nationwide health study NAKO in Berlin: 3,000th participant examined in MRI scanner

We have reached the half-way mark. Ute Radeklau from Berlin is the 3,000th person to be examined in the Berlin Ultrahigh Field Facility at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the context of the largest German health study NAKO. It took a good hour to take a thousand MRI images of her. NAKO has been underway since 2014 and will continue for another 27 years. By collecting data on the health and risk factors of some 200,000 participants across Germany the goal is to improve prevention, early diagnosis and therapy of widespread diseases like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and dementia.

No. 13 / June 8, 2017

Committed to Max Delbrück’s scientific legacy

The family of the man who gave his name to the MDC visited the Berlin research center and discovered the beginnings, history and prospects of molecular medicine in Berlin.

No. 12 / June 1, 2017

The art of folding mitochondrial membranes

Oliver Daumke’s lab figures out how the inner membranes of mitochondria “get their groove” and assume the complex shapes they need to carry out crucial cellular functions

No. 11 / May 10, 2017

MDC to make research more publicly accessible in EU project

Supporting, organizing and carrying out research are the main tasks of scientific funding bodies and institutions. ORION, a Europe-wide collaborative project in the life sciences and biomedicine, aims to make these processes more transparent to the public. The Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine joins eight other partners in the project, which kicks off in Barcelona this week.

No 10 / April 26, 2017

Fighting Cancer with Immunotherapy: Signaling Molecule Causes Regression of Blood Vessels

Joint press release by the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine and the Berlin Institute of Health

Immunotherapy with T-cells offers great hope to people suffering from cancer. Some initial successes have already been made in treating blood cancer, but treating solid tumors remains a major challenge. The signaling molecule interferon gamma, which is produced by T-cells, plays a key role in the therapy. It cuts off the blood supply to tumors, as a new study in the journal Nature reveals. 

No 9 / April 20, 2017

Facts and Figures: MDC laboratory animal report for 2016

The aim of over 60 research groups working at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) is to understand the molecular basis of the processes underlying states of health and disease. In some cases, this research requires the use of animals alongside many other types of experiments. Now the MDC has reported the use of 48,773 test animals in 2016 to the Berlin State Office for Health and Social Affairs (Lageso).

No 8 / April 20, 2017

How naked mole-rats defy lack of oxygen

When oxygen runs low in their underground burrows, naked mole rats have a unique method of survival. Their metabolism switches from a glucose-based system, which depends on oxygen, to one that makes use of fructose. For a while this suffices to protect sensitive organs such as the heart and brain. Scientists of the Max Delbrück Center of Molecular Medicine now explain this unique survival strategy in the current issue of the journal Science.

No 7 / April 17, 2017

Mission Control for the body’s salt and water supplies

New studies show that salty food diminishes thirst while increasing hunger, due to a higher need for energy

We’ve all heard it: eating salty foods makes you thirstier. But what sounds like good nutritional advice turns out to be an old-wives’ tale. In a study carried out during a simulated mission to Mars, an international group of scientists has found exactly the opposite to be true. “Cosmonauts” who ate more salt retained more water, weren’t as thirsty, and needed more energy.

No 6 / March 22, 2017

ERC funding for two MDC scientists

Medical imaging has an unavoidable side effect: MRI machines generate heat. Thoralf Niendorf has now been awarded an ERC Advanced grant to turn this feature into a tool to study the role of temperature in animal bodies. A second ERC Advanced Grant goes to Thomas Jentsch, who will explore the functions of ion channels in health and disease.

No 5 / March 14, 2017

A European success story

The European Research Council (ERC) is celebrating its 10th anniversary this week. Some 14 researchers at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine have benefited so far from its funding – in some cases more than once.

No 4 / March 8, 2017

A three-dimensional map of the genome

Gene mapping technique promises to unlock the power of proximity to find genes implicated in diseases

Cells face a daunting task. They have to neatly pack a several meter-long thread of genetic material into a nucleus that measures only five micrometers across. This origami creates spatial interactions between genes and their switches, which can affect human health and disease. Now, an international team of scientists has devised a powerful new technique that ‘maps’ this three-dimensional geography of the entire genome. Their paper is published in Nature.

No 3 / February 13, 2017

Inducing an identity crisis in liver cells may help diabetics

First successful reprogramming of liver cells to pancreas progenitor cells based on a single factor

It is now possible to reprogram cells from the liver into the precursor cells that give rise to the pancreas by altering the activity of a single gene. A team of researchers at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) has now accomplished this feat in mice. Their results should make it feasible to help diabetic patients through cell therapy.

No 2 / January 26, 2017

A cellular system makes the battle against a rare disease personal

Some diseases are untreatable because we lack a model system to fully understand symptoms or test possible drugs. This is the case of mitochondrial disease, a rare condition caused by defects in the “cellular powerhouse.” Scientists from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) have now developed a new personalized strategy to address mitochondrial disease by reprogramming the patients' cells and used it to identify a promising potential drug.

No. 1 / January 23, 2017

Berlin-Buch: NAKO Health Study investigates its 5000th participant

The Berlin-Nord Study Centre has now recruited half of the 10,000 volunteers for Germany’s largest ever cohort study. Across Germany, a total of 200,000 people will participate in the study, who will be carefully examined and thereafter observed for twenty to thirty years. The large-scale study will serve the improvement of prevention, early detection and treatment of widespread diseases.