The Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association carries out basic biomedical research. We try to understand the causes of diseases at the molecular level, in order to better diagnose, treat and prevent them. Our aim is to transfer our findings as quickly as possible into practical applications.

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Research Highlights

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Perfecting the tools to rewrite genomes

For many years, scientists have dreamed of manipulating DNA the way copy-editors change texts: from replacing single letters of the genetic code to altering sequences of any length. Now the groups of Klaus Rajewsky and Ralf Kühn at the MDC have improved a method of genetic engineering known as CRISPR/Cas. The new modifications represent a method for introducing precise mutations into genomes at a high frequency and selectivity. The work was published online by Nature Biotechnology on March 24.

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Successful search for the all-rounders among the embryonic stem cells

Embryonic stem cells are regarded as a beacon of hope in regenerative medicine, because in principle they are capable to develop into any cell type of the body. The hope is that one day it will be possible to replace damaged tissue and cure numerous diseases with them. One of the obstacles facing research is that actually only a fraction of the cells in culture dishes with human embryonic stem cells represent this early, truly pluripotent state. MDC Researchers together with collaborators from the University of Bath in England have found a method to identify these “naïve” embryonic stem cells. Their work was recently described in the journal Nature.

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