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.