Press release

23.11.2009

Treatment for Iron Deficiency Helps Heart-Failure Patients

Back to Overview

You are here:

Tests show improved exercise capacity and well-being

Researchers at the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin have discovered that intravenous iron considerably improves quality of life in heart-failure patients. Prof. Stefan Anker and his team from the Department of Cardiology at the Campus Virchow-Klinikum, led the first large inter¬national study on the effect of iron therapy in patients with heart failure. Their results are published in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine*.

"Iron deficiency plays an important role in many severe disorders", explained Prof. Anker. It is known that iron deficiency frequently leads to anaemia in patients suffering from tumours, lung and kidney disease. The body produces either insufficient haemoglobin (the red pigment present in the blood) or too few red blood cells. This can cause physical weakness, shortness of breath, headache, fainting and sleeplessness. These patients are often given an iron injection. "However, no-one thought of testing the effect of iron in heart failure until now", stressed Prof. Anker. "Our group was able to determine that not only does intravenous iron considerably benefit heart-failure patients with anaemia, but also those who are "only" suffering from iron deficiency without anaemia."

A total of 75 study centres in 11 countries took part in the trial. The researchers studied 459 patients whose hearts showed symptoms of diminished pumping ability and whose blood was shown to be lacking in iron. Two-thirds of patients received treatment with ferric carboxy¬maltose and one-third were given a placebo. "We did not expect to see such a rapid improve¬ment", reported Prof. Anker. Significant results were seen after only four weeks of treatment. After 24 weeks of treatment, 50 percent of patients receiving iron therapy said that they felt much better, compared to 27 percent in the placebo group. The patients treated with iron also suffered considerably less shortness of breath. The distance they were able to walk in six minutes increased by 35 metres compared to those in the placebo group. The quality of life of the iron-treated patients also improved substantially.

"Intravenous iron therapy can really help heart-failure patients", concluded Prof. Anker. Our results show that the treatment is also very well tolerated. The great advantage is that the drug is already available." Prof. Anker advises patients with heart failure to have their iron levels checked: patients found to have iron deficiency or anaemia should talk to their doctor about intravenous iron therapy. His next project is to test the effect of iron therapy in patients with heart failure whose hearts do not have impaired pumping action. "We may well have stumbled across a further research field here", he said.

*Stefan D. Anker et al.: Ferric Carboxymaltose in Patients with Heart Failure and Iron Deficiency. In: The New England Journal of Medicine. November 2009.

Contact

Prof. Stefan Anker
Angewandte Kachexieforschung
Medizinische Klinik mit Schwerpunkt Kardiologie
Campus Virchow-Klinikum
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 553 463



Back to Overview

Press release

22.11.2010

Tele-medicine extends and improves life

Back to Overview

You are here:

Project "Partnership for the Heart" presents results

At a press conference in the Federal Ministry of Economics and technology (BMWi), the consortium partners of the project "Partnership for the Heart" will, for the first time, present the results of an up to now worldwide unique clinical study on the effectiveness of telemedicine in chronic heart failure.  The investigation, controlled by Charité - University Medicine Berlin was carried out over the past two years. It presents both the medical and the economic benefits of telemedicine on a recognized objective basis.  In addition to Federal Minister of Economics Rainer Brüderle, the representatives of the enterprises involved in the project Prof. Karl Max Einhäupl, chairman of the board of the Charité, Dr. Siegfried Dais, manager of the Robert Bosch GmbH, Dr. Ralf Brandner, Head of Development of InterComponetWare AG (ICW) and Dr. Thomas Schweizer, managing director of Aipermon GmbH discuss the economic and health consequences of the study.

A total of 710 chronically weak heart patients from Berlin / Brandenburg and Baden-Württemberg took part in the study.  These patients’ hearts, in part, achieved less than half of the normal pumping capacity.  In addition, it can cause dangerous water retention in the body, requiring frequent hospital admissions.  It was found that with telemedicine in addition to primary medical care, both the quality of life as well as the life expectancy of risk patients clearly improves.

"The study established that this therapy management with the help of telemedicine is of particular use with unstable patients.  Now it falls to the committees of self-government and politics to provide the crucial points, so that this innovative solution can quickly be of benefit for the affected patients in Germany“, explains Prof. Einhäupl

For a period of two years the weight values, blood pressure values and ECG values of half of the patients were sent daily by means of mobile radio to the tele-medical centre of the Charité or to the Stuttgart Robert Bosch hospital and were evaluated there.  In cases with striking changes, the medical specialist staff can contact the affected persons or her doctors in a timely manner.  For this group, within two years, the cardiovascular mortality rate was reduced significantly.  Also, the number of hospitalizations for heart failure dropped off noticeably.  The other half of the patients served as a control group and was treated conventionally over the same period of time, but received no telemedicine support.

"This study clearly shows the impressive potential of telemedicine." said Dr. Siegfried Dais, deputy chairman of the Bosch Group, which accompanied the study as technical lead manager.  Also involved in "Partnership for the Heart", were the equipment manufacturer Aipermon GmbH & Co. KG and the eHealth software provider InterComponentWare AG (ICW). Together with health providers and political policy makers the consortium will now strive to make telemedical care available to as many patients as possible in Germany.  In other countries, telemedicine is already used in the treatment of diabetes, severe lung disease or stroke rehabilitation.

Contact

Dr. Friedrich Köhler
Med. Klinik mit Schw. Kardiologie und Angiologie
Charité Campus Mitte
t: +49 30 450 514 184

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterPartnership for the Heart



Back to Overview

Press release

02.12.2010

Biological gears drive cellular machine for protein synthesis

Back to Overview

You are here:

Research group solves basic problem of molecular biology

Scientists at Charité - University Medicine Berlin in cooperation with research groups at several German and U.S. research sites, could answer a key question in the production of proteins in the cell. The researchers whose work was published in the leading professional magazine "Nature"* see a possible application of this discovery in the development of improved antibiotics.

Proteins are synthesized with the help of two nucleic acids (RNA) by Ribosomes, the "protein factories" of the cell.  Thereby, the so called messenger RNA (mRNA), the blueprint of proteins, can be read much as a magnetic film at the interface between the two subunits of the Ribosome.  The proteins are then assembled chain like from amino acids. Readers of the mRNA and at the same time bearers of the amino acids are the so-called transfer-RNAs (tRNAs).  These transport amino acids to synthesize the required protein to the site of synthesis, until the blueprint signals the end of this work.  Thus, the genetic information stored in the sequence of nucleic acids has been translated from the nucleic acid world into a product of the protein world.  The completed protein then leaves through a Ribosome tunnel. At this time, it is not yet clear how the RNA and transfer RNA is moved through the ribosome during this process.

Researchers from Berlin, Marburg, Munich, Frankfurt / Main, Los Alamos, San Diego, Tallahassee and Houston have now managed to document that the motion comes from the opposing rotations of the two subunits of the Ribosome.

“Thereby thermal energy is used; it provides for the internal movement of the Ribosoms, and this in turn moves the tRNAs and mRNA through the ribosome" explained Prof. Christian M.T. Spahn of the Institute for Medical Physics and Biophysics, Campus Charité Mitte, the multinational research group coordinator. The work of the subunits of the Ribosome can be compared with a mechanical ratchet.  The head domain of the small subunit assumes a key position, by transporting the tRNAs as on an assembly line. This operation is moderated with the help of a helper protein, which functions as a dynamic pawl to ensure movement in the target direction. 

The solution to this long-standing problem in molecular biology was made possible by structural analysis using three-dimensional cryo-electron microscopy.

In this method, the Ribosomes were Quick Frozen in liquid ethane at minus 192 ° Celsius, and several 100,000 two-dimensional images of Ribosomes, were computationally sorted and back-projected into two three-dimensional reconstructions of the ribosome in different structural states.

*Andreas H. Ratje et al.: Head swivel on the ribosome facilitates translocation by means of intra-subunit tRNA hybrid sites. In: Nature, Volume 468, 02 Dezember 2010, 713–716. DOI: 10.1038/nature09547

Contact

Prof. Christian Spahn
Institut für Medizinische Physik und Biophysik
Campus Charité Mitte
t: +49 30 450 524131



Back to Overview

Press release

07.12.2010

World-first at Charité: Birth in „open“ MRI

Back to Overview

You are here:

Cooperation between radiology and obstetrics lead to success

Abbildung
Die letzen Sekunden vor der Geburt, ein MR-Bild kurz vor dem Austritt des Kopfes
Abbildung Offener Magnetresonanztomograph (Philips, Panorama HFO)
Picture: Open magnetic resonance imager (MRI) (Philips Panorama HFO)

An interdisciplinary team of scientists from the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin have achieved a world-first, the birth of a child in an “open” MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanner that allows a mother-to-be to fit fully into the machine. Through the cooperation of the obstetrician Dr. Christan Bamberg, the radiologist Dr. Ulf Teichgräber and the engineer and project manager Felix Güttler, unique images of the baby inside the mother and the child's movements in the birth canal up to the point of the exit of the head were obtained. The birth that took place in the scanner went smoothly and both mother and baby were in good health.

The joint project was a two-year research and development project of the radiological technically-oriented working group on “open high-field MRI". The team built a special “open MRI” scanner, a new type of machine whose open structure had the necessary space for the mother to give birth. One of the innovations of this new system was the creation of a new fetal monitoring system. This allowed the monitoring of the child's heartbeat on MRI during the birth process. The open high-field MRI (Philips Panorama HFO) is a novel device whose design allows easy access to mother and child enabling the researchers to study in greater detail how the baby moves through the mother’s pelvis and down the birth canal.

The object of the interdisciplinary research team now is to investigate ideas developed in the 19th century concerning the natal process and the movements of the unborn child in the mother's pelvis and down the birth canal. In a cooperative effort, the institute of Radiology under the direction of Prof. Bernd Hamm and the Department of Obstetrics with Director Prof. Ernst Beinder will work closely together. Among others, a primary aim of the scientists is to better understand why about 15 percent of pregnant women require a Caesarean section because the baby does not progress properly into the birth canal.

Downloads

Contact

No results

Back to Overview

Press release

08.12.2010

Even the chicken knows how to fight back

Back to Overview

You are here:

Classical protein structure with new qualities discovered

Researchers at the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin discovered, in cooperation with scientists at the Max Delbrück Centrum, the Free University Berlin and the Beckman Research Institute in California, a protein within the immune system of the chicken, which appears to enhance its body's defences.  "It exhibits the structure of classic defense molecules, such as those of humans. But unlike comparable molecules in other mammals, it is capable of recognising fats - so-called lipids - instead of protein fragments”, explains Prof. Andreas Ziegler, the director of the Institut für Immungenetik of the Charité. In the current issue of the prestigious scientific journal "PloS Biology"*, he and his colleagues demonstrate that the immune system of the chicken is still full of surprises.

A common feature of the immune system of all vertebrates is the presence of the so-called major histocompatibility complex (MHC). The MHC produces a group of molecules that are responsible for the distinction between exogenous (foreign) and endogenous (“self”) substances. They have the task of reporting foreign protein fragments, so-called peptides, that may be derived from viruses or bacteria within an infected cell, to the immune system. Peptides dock unto a specific site of the MHC molecule. As a result, this molecule transports the captured peptide to the cell surface and presents it to immune cells such as T-cells. If these recognize the peptide as “foreign”, a series of reactions is initiated that may end up with the destruction of the infected cell.

The MHC genes of the chicken are divided into two regions (MHC-B and MHC-Y) on the same chromosome. The MHC-B region has similarity to the MHC of mammals, but it is much smaller. Nevertheless, the products of these genes have the typical structure of classical MHC molecules with a binding site for peptides. The team led by Prof. Ziegler examined the structure and binding properties of a protein (YF1*7.1) from the MHC-Y region. Using X-ray crystallography, a technique that permits to determine the molecular structure of a protein, it was first shown that the YF1*7.1 molecule possesses the characteristic structure of classical MHC molecules. However, it has an atypical binding site which binds lipids, but not peptides. This ability has been known up to now only from certain "non-classical" MHC class I proteins, in particular CD1 molecules.

Therefore, the binding of lipids to the YF1*7.1 protein closes the gap that separated classical from non-classical MHC class I molecules, at least in structural terms and with regard to the type of binding partner. YF1 proteins interacting with lipids may serve the chicken to increase its seemingly very narrow repertoire of peptide- or lipid-binding MHC molecules in comparison to that of mammals and may thus help this species  to efficiently protect itself from a variety of pathogens.

* Chee Seng Hee et al.: Structure of a Classical MHC Class I Molecule That Binds “Non-Classical” Ligands. In: PLoS Biology. 07 Dezember 2010. DOI 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000557

Contact

Prof. Andreas Ziegler

Direktor des Instituts für Immungenetik

Campus Virchow-Klinikum

t: +49 30 450 564731

 

 



Back to Overview

Press release

07.01.2011

Fruit and vegetable concentrate decreases number of days with severe cold symptoms

Back to Overview

You are here:

Remedy can reduce expenditures on medications in the long term

Researchers at Charité - University Medicine Berlin were the first to show that a specific food supplement made from fruit and vegetable juice concentrates significantly reduced the number of days with severe cold symptoms. The report published in the British Journal of Nutrition* sees the potential benefits of the product in a reduced number of sick days and correspondingly lower expenditure on cold medicines.

Researchers from the institute of Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics, in cooperation with more than 500 employees of the Charité, as test participants, carried out an 8-month study on the effects of the preparation “Juice Plus+” ®, from the US-American supplier NSA from Collierville, Tennessee. In a randomized double-blind study, half the subjects took the drug daily, while the other half received a placebo. After just two months the results showed: The number of colds in both groups was equal. However, in the group that received the drug, the colds were much milder.  As a result, there was a decrease of moderate and severe cold symptoms of about 20 percent.

The question of whether the product is suitable for prolonged use, to reduce the severity of symptoms and the incidence of colds further, could be the subject of future studies of “Juice Plus+” ® according to the authors.  Also unclear is the specific mode of action of the preparation. "The results of the study are certainly encouraging because they show that certain dietary supplements may mitigate the burdens and consequences of the common cold," said Prof. Stefan Willich, Director of the Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics of Charité and head of the study.

The neutrality of the study was ensured by the fact that as a sponsor of the study, no study data were transmitted to the manufacturer of the preparation and they were also not involved in the interpretation of the study results.

*Stephanie Roll et al.: Reduction of common cold symptoms by encapsulated juice powder concentrate of fruits and vegetables: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. In: Br J Nutr. 2010 Aug 23: 1-5. DOI:10.1017/S000711451000317X

British Journal of Nutrition is a leading international peer-reviewed journal covering research on human and clinical nutrition, animal nutrition and basic science as applied to nutrition. The Journal recognises the multidisciplinary nature of nutritional science and includes material from all of the specialities involved in nutrition research, including molecular and cell biology and the emerging area of nutritional genomics.

Contact

Prof. Stefan N. Willich
Direktor des Instituts für Sozialmedizin, Epidemiologie und Gesundheitsökonomie
Campus Charité Mitte
t: +49 30 450 529 002



Back to Overview

Press release

28.01.2011

Charité scientists decipher the cause of an inherited malformation

Back to Overview

You are here:

With a new examination method, scientists of the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin and the Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Genetics Berlin have deciphered the cause of a special form of congenital malformation of the skull and fingers. The genetic cause for this disease lies in a region of the human genome, which is loosely referred to as "gene desert". Its function is still largely unknown, because this part of the genome has no protein-coding properties, that is, no blueprints for proteins. The results of the research group of Dr. Eva Klopocki and Prof. Stefan Mundlos, Director, Institute of Medical Genetics and Human Genetics at the Charité, are published in the current issue of the "American Journal of Human Genetics"*.They show important functions performed by this part of the human genome

The object of their research was a rare, inheritable disease which is transmitted with a likelihood of 50 percent by affected parents to their offspring.  In this disease, the so-called “Philadelphia type craniosynostosis”, in addition to the premature closure of cranial sutures, a fusion of individual fingers is also observed. By means of a special method the scientists could show that a specific gene is not responsible for the formation of this defect; but a changed "enhancer" element, a regulator, which lies in the non-protein-coding part of the genome and faultily controls the relevant gene during embryonic development. This so-called "gene chip diagnostics“, makes it possible to detect very small chromosomal changes which are not visible in conventional chromosome analysis.

„We know now where we must put forth therapies for this hereditary disease“, explained Prof. Mundlos. "The really fascinating thing is the insight we gained into the complex interaction of the protein-coding and non-coding part of the genome.  The so-called 'gene desert' contains regulators which must switch genes and proteins on and off during embryonic development at precisely the right time and place in order to create complex structures, such as hands and skulls. "Here lies a treasure trove for future research."

*Klopocki E. et al. Copy-Number Variations Involving the IHH Locus Are Associated with Syndactyly and Craniosynostosis. American Journal of Human Genetics. 2011 Jan 7;88(1):70-5. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2010.11.006

Contact

Prof. Stefan Mundlos
Institut für Medizinische Genetik und Humangenetik
Campus Virchow-Klinikum
t: +49 30 450 569 121



Back to Overview

Press release

18.02.2011

See, hear, move – interactive and multimedia patient data

Back to Overview

You are here:

Scientists integrate 3-D, video, and audio data into PDF documents

Who wouldn’t want to send his heartbeat electronically? Not only scientists and doctors, but also lovers can now indulge in this desire.  Researchers at the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin, in collaboration with colleagues at the university hospitals of Jena and Münster, the Bundeswehrkrankenhaus Berlin and the Erlangen-based company 3D-Shape GmbH have, for the first time, embedded multimedia patient data into an electronic publication. Dr. Alexander Ziegler of the Institut für Immungenetik of the Charité and his co-workers expect a substantial improvement of the transparency and the interdisciplinary communication of scientific 3-D, video and audio data from this new approach.

As the researchers report in the journal BMC Medicine*, this new form of medical publication offers the exciting opportunity to integrate multimedia content directly into electronic documents. For this purpose, the scientists made full use of the advanced capabilities of the popular PDF file type, which allow the incorporation of multimedia formats such as MP3 files into a document. The free online article includes a short ultrasound video sequence of a beating human heart and an audio sequence of a patient with severe sleep apnea as well as two interactive 3-D models, that of a face and that of a human brain. The freely available Adobe Reader software from version 9 onwards, installed on millions of computers worldwide, is sufficient to activate the interactive multimedia contents.

In their article, the scientists stress that the possibility of merging text and multimedia content in a single document will promote not only the digitization of the medical publication system, but also that of research and teaching. "There is an enormous potential for this approach when it comes to designing teaching or lecturing materials", says Alexander Ziegler. "The possibility to embed an interactive 3-D model of a complex biological structure into PDF documents that can be intuitively manipulated will certainly play an important role in teaching in the future."

*Ziegler et al.: Effectively incorporating selected multimedia content into medical publications. BMC Medicine 2011 9:17. doi:10.1186/1741-7015-9-17

Links

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/9/17

The interactive PDF version (18 MB) can be downloaded by clicking 'PDF' in the top right corner.

Contact

Dr. rer. nat. Alexander Ziegler
Institut für Immungenetik
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 570 400



Back to Overview

Press release

02.03.2011

Victory in new round of the Excellence Initiative

Back to Overview

You are here:

Two other clusters, and a graduate school are in the running

The CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin remains on track in the Excellence Initiative.  The speakers for two clusters of excellence and a graduate school have been invited today by the Joint Commission of the German Research Association and the Science Council, to submit detailed proposals by September 1.  They thereby join the two already existing centers of excellence of the Charité, the cluster "NeuroCure" and the Graduate School Berlin Brandenburg School for Regenerative Therapies (BSRT), which are also seeking renewal of their funding in September.  The Charité thus has the chance to develop, in the most favorable case by 2017, three excellency clusters and two postgraduate schools into major pillars of the research priorities of the Charité.  The final funding decision on this will be made in summer of 2012.

This success is based quite significantly on the excellence of our researchers and scientists, but also on flexible research funding, which has been established in recent years at the Charité, said Prof. Annette Grüters Kieslich, the Dean of the Charité.   "The Commission has acknowledged the fact that we were able to combine effectively with the Free University, Humboldt-University and other research institutions, to realize the enormous potential of excellent researchers in biomedicine in Berlin."

The title of the first cluster application "ImmunoReset - from the Suppression to the healing of immune- mediated  illnesses“ describes the aim of the research network to repair a misdirected immune system and to thus cure diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease or diabetes.  “Treatments available today can only alleviate the symptoms of these chronic illnesses which have a lifelong affect on the patients.", said Prof. Alf Hamann of the Medical Department, Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, who conceived the application together with Prof. Andreas Radbruch of the German rheumatism-research centre.

In the proposed research cluster, clinical and research experts work together on new ideas for therapies to fix the cause of chronic immune diseases - the disturbed immune regulation system - and quickly and safely to transfer these ideas into practice.

The focus of the second cluster application "GenoRare" are the orphans of medicine - the patients with rare diseases.  These patients are cared for in the Charité’s newly founded Berlin Centre for Rare Diseases.   In the new research cluster, Prof. Stefan Mundlos of the Institute of Medical Genetics and Human Genetics, in collaboration with research groups at the Max Delbrück Center, the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics and researchers of the FU and HU, will investigate the exact development mechanisms of rare illnesses.  The clarification of the cause is the first and most important step in the development of therapies.  "Today's request to develop a full application, for the systematic analysis and functional analysis of genes for rare diseases, is an important opportunity to lay the foundation for a new era of personalized medicine," he explained.  These system-biological research activities are closely integrated with the research at the MDC, with the discussion of ethical aspects of genome analysis at the philosophical faculty of the HU as well as in a specially structured doctoral program, which takes the special needs of medical molecular genetics into account and is coordinated by the Dahlem Research School of the Free University.

With the planned "Berlin Graduate School for Integrative Oncology", the Free University and Humboldt remain important university partners.  „We want to train in an especially closely knit manner, including basic scientists together with young doctors having an interest in cancer research so that they can develop future therapeutic strategies against the medical and social challenge` cancer ',, explained the initiator of the application, Prof. Clemens Schmitt of the molecular cancer research centre of the Charité.  He hopes to receive full funding from the Excellence Initiative of between one and 2.5 million Euros per year with approval of the full application for the project.

Excellence clusters can expect an annual financial support of from 3 to 8 million Euros. "This is a very powerful impulse for science, but also for the regional economy in Berlin and Brandenburg,“ said Prof. Karl Max Einhäupl, the chairman of the board of the Charité.   In the past four years alone, in the two responsible institutions in the Charité, NeuroCure and BSRT, in addition to publication of numerous high-profile scientific papers and development of innovative approaches for scientists, 149 new jobs for scientist have been created.  In addition there are the clusters of excellence "Languages of emotion" of the free University and the "Berlin School of Mind and Brain" of the Humboldt University.  The Charité is also responsible for aiding important elements with a total of three newly recruited researchers  "We were able to entice many of the outstanding scientists because of the attractive research conditions, we can offer through the Excellence Initiative - but also because of the dynamic atmosphere in our city - attract from abroad, " said the Dean.   On this basis hopefully starting in 2012, the Charité will do everything possible to expand the research location Berlin-Brandenburg with further Excellence Initiative projects.

Contact

Claudia Peter
GB Unternehmenskommunikation
t.:+ 49 30 450 570 503



Back to Overview

Press release

10.03.2011

Charité scientists decipher important structure in the transmission of light signals

Back to Overview

You are here:

Once again, scientists from CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin, in cooperation with the Humboldt-University of Berlin as well as Universities in South Korea, London and Toronto, have made a breakthrough in the basics of signal transduction research. They were able to clarify for the first time, in an important information carrier in the human body, the receptor protein rhodopsin, how such a protein must be designed to accommodate a light signal. The study is published in the current edition of the prestigious journal Nature*.

Rhodopsin is one of the so-called G protein-coupled receptors. These proteins are found in the membranes that envelop every living cell. They connect the cells with signals from the environment such as light, scents and flavors, but also with signals from the body, such as hormones. Therefore, they are involved in almost all physiological processes in the body as well as in most diseases. In order for a receptor like Rhodopsin to receive information, it must interact with molecular carriers of information - as for example a hormone or a light-sensitive "antenna".  This is only possible when the receptor forms a binding site, in which the binding molecule (the so-called ligand) fits. The research group has succeeded, for the first time, in keeping the light receptor rhodopsin in its light-activated state and in a stable form. In this so-called Meta State, the receptor binds the retinal, a derivative of vitamin A, in a form that is transformed by light. With this structure in hands, one gains insights into the mechanism of the interaction between the receptor and its ligand.

This is a significant step forward in the clarification and understanding of signal transduction in the cell. „One can learn from our example how a ligand is “interrogated” by a receptor protein “, explains Prof. Hofmann, deputy Director of the Institute of Medical Physics and Biophysics and Member of the Centre for Biophysics and Bioinformatics of the Humboldt-University. “There is reason to believe that the basic processes in ligand binding are similar in different receptors. Of course we also hope that we will benefit from the understanding of the underlying structures and mechanisms for the treatment of pathological changes in signal transduction."

*Crystal structure of metarhodopsin II. Hui-Woog Choe, Yong Ju Kim, Jung Hee Park, Takefumi Morizumi, Emil F. Pai, Norbert Krauß, Klaus Peter Hofmann, Patrick Scheerer & Oliver P. Ernst. Nature, Advanced Online Publication 9 March 2011, doi:10.1038/nature09789

Contact

Prof. Klaus Peter Hofmann
Deputy Director of the Institute of Medical Physics and Biophysics
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 524 111



Back to Overview

Press release

15.03.2011

Magnesium deficiency: not always a nutritional problem

Back to Overview

You are here:

Scientists of the Charité decipher genetic defect

Researchers and scientists of the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin, in cooperation with the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, and colleagues from the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and the Czech Republic have succeeded in identifying a genetic cause of magnesium deficiency. The study from Dr. Dominik Müller of the Department of Pediatric Nephrology, ascertained changes in a gene which is involved in the regulation of magnesium processes involved in the kidney. This research which is published in the current issue of the journal "American Journal of human genetics", opens the way for possible future medicinal treatment of genetically caused magnesium deficiencies.

A magnesium deficiency, with symptoms of fatigue and muscle weakness up to severe seizures and heart rhythm disturbances, may also be associated with diabetes and high blood pressure and have up till now been mostly explained by dietary insufficiencies. Dr. Müller and his team have now shown that an altered gene may be the cause for this deficiency. Changes in a gene (Cnnm2), entail changes in the human blueprint and thus in the structure and function of protein sequence. In this case, the change affects a protein that is anchored in the membrane of kidney cells and intestinal cells and is responsible for the absorption of magnesium in the blood stream. Since this process no longer works in the defective protein, the magnesium is not put into the blood stream but excreted through the intestine and the urine and therefore forfeited. Dr. Mueller commented on his research results as follows: "Our results provide us with a number of new insights into magnesium metabolism in the body. In the end, following further research and development, we see the possibility to deal with such deficiencies medicinally "

Stuiver et al., CNNM2, Encoding a Basolateral Protein Required for Renal Mg2+ Handling, Is Mutated in Dominant Hypomagnesemia, The American Journal of Human Genetics (2011), doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2011.02.005

Contact

Priv.-Doz. Dr. Dominik Müller
Klinik für Pädiatrie mit Schwerpunkt Nephrologie
Campus Virchow-Klinikum
t: +49 30 450 616 147



Back to Overview

Press release

25.03.2011

Berlin neuroscientists decode crucial component in brain signal processing

Back to Overview

You are here:

A team of Neuroscientists from NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, have made a major breakthrough in understanding how signals are processed in the human brain. The paper, published in the current issue of the scientific journal Neuron, shows that a certain type of protein – the “vesicular glutamate transporter” (VGLUT) plays a crucial part in the strength regulation of synaptic connections. This regulation enables synapses to vary in strength.

Synapses transmit the communication between different neurons within the central nervous system and depending on their function in the brain, they operate differently. For example, the cerebral cortex bundles a vast amount of information and in order to process this, neurons need to dose or regulate the information. Neuroscientist Christian Rosenmund, who moved his lab from Baylor College of Medicine to CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin in 2009, has been focusing on the function of synapses for years. “A neuron can be compared to a music enthusiast. He doesn´t hear the single sounds but the whole concert. Synapses are like single sounds. Some play louder, some play more quietly”, he illustrates. But until now scientists didn´t know how they were regulated. However, a dysfunction of synapses can have a dramatic impact on signal processing in the brain and can lead to neurological diseases. The Rosenmund team has now made a major breakthrough and discovered the regulator for the volume of the nerve cells – the protein endophilin. Its interaction with a certain variety of the glutamate transporter (VGLUT) plays the key role. The widely known ‘housekeeping’ function of these proteins is to fill vesicles with the neurotransmitter glutamate. That the transporter has a regulating function as well was a big surprise.

“We found a mechanism how the strength of synapses is controlled. The brain can adapt a synapse adequately to different brain functions. This insight can help us to understand a number of neurological diseases like epilepsy and even treat them”, explains Rosenmund. In the future the scientists want to investigate further the pathopysiological relevance of glutamate transporters.

The NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence at the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin is funded as part of the Excellence Initiative of the German federal and state governments and translates basic research results in neuroscience into clinical application. By improving our understanding of the mechanisms underlying disease mechanisms, the expertise of the interdisciplinary research alliance contributes to developing effective treatments for neurological diseases such as stroke, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Apart from the Charité, NeuroCure partners include Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin, the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC), the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology (FMP) and the Deutsches Rheuma-Forschungszentrum (DRFZ).

Links

For more information about the research please visit www.rosenmundlab.de
www.neurocure.de

Contact

Kerstin Vincze
NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 539 707



Back to Overview

Press release

07.04.2011

New therapy shows novel therapeutic approach to fighting inflammation

Back to Overview

You are here:

Researchers at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin have succeeded in finding a new therapeutic approach to certain inflammatory reactions of the body. The focus of this new approach, developed under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Schwab, are known as guidance molecules, which reduce the body's own immune system to the required level and prevent excessive and damaging inflammation. Possible applications include therapies for inflammation, such as blood poisoning, but also in chronic inflammation and immunological inflammations such as rheumatoid arthritis and organ rejection.

Two types of guidance molecules, the attractive and the repulsive, direct the growth of nerve cells to the actual target. The designation of these molecules ("guidance" molecules) also describes the exclusive function that was previously attributed to them, namely to show the growing nerve fibers the way. The fundamentally new approach to the research of Prof. Dr. Schwab and his team at the Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies (BCRT) is the realization that these guidance molecules have an additional hitherto unknown role in the immune system.

The problem with the so-called "excessive" inflammation of the body is that the immune system overreacts and there by aggravates the actual inflammation.  Here the repulsive molecules drive the immune molecules (leukocytes) into the way and thus prevent the inflammation from getting out of control or becoming chronic. The research is published in the current issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The new approach represents a softer, more specific alternative to the orthodox approaches to the combat of inflammation such as cortisone, due to cortisone’s non-specific effect as well as many associated side effects which pose problems for many patients. Prof. Dr. Schwab is optimistic that through this research, a new effective therapy could be found, which can be effective in the fight against excessive inflammation; due to their fundamentally new understanding of this important aspect of the immune system.

Valbona Mirakaj, Sebastian Brown, Stefanie Laucher, Carolin Steinl, Gerd Klein, David Köhler, Thomas Skutella, Christian Meisel, Benedikt Brommer, Peter Rosenberger and Jan M. Schwab: Repulsive guidance molecule-A (RGM-A) inhibits leukocyte migration and mitigates inflammation. PNAS, April 5, 2011. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1015605108

Links

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2011/04/04/1015605108

Contact

Prof. Jan Schwab
Klinik und Poliklinik für Neurologie und Experimentelle Neurologie
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 560 293



Back to Overview

Press release

15.04.2011

Charité wants to reform medical specialist training

Back to Overview

You are here:

The "Friedrich C. Luft”- Clinical Scientist program for aspiring specialists will start today with eight candidates

With a ceremonial kick-off event today, the "Friedrich C. Luft" - Clinical Scientist program begins at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin. Eight assistant doctors from various fields were selected through a peer review process to round out the special education section of their specialist qualification.

The project, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and the Charité Foundation with a total of 1.4 million Euros, is strongly supported by the medical faculty and the Board of Directors of Charité. The pilot phase should show how clinical science and research within the specialist's continuing education can be sensibly anchored in Germany.  „The rapid developments in biotechnology caused the end of evening research“, explains Prof. Dr. Duska Dragun who developed the program together with other members of the Young Charité, a group of young doctors at Charité, and the Charité Foundation. Instead progressive differentiation, specialization and increased complexity in medicine require full freedom for scientists who want to interpolate their clinical and research activities closely in order to achieve the maximum benefit for patients, according to Prof. Dragun.

At the core of the "Clinical Scientist" program, in addition to the modules of protected research for the acquisition of scientific skills, management and leadership skills are acquired. The long-term goal of the pilot program is firmly establishing structured specialist training at Charité, to share the experience with other university hospitals and thus initiate nationwide reform in the training of prospective doctors and medical specialists.

With 150 million euros in third party funding, ten collaborative research centers and four sponsored research projects under the excellence initiative, Charité is academically the strongest university medicine in Germany. The integration of research, teaching and patient care at Charité offers ideal conditions for translational research. The slogan "We bring cutting-edge research to the bedside", underlines this claim.

Since 1962 the non-profit Volkswagen Foundation has supported research projects in all disciplines. In the context of changing funding initiatives they provide scientific stimuli to the research community. The Clinical Scientist program is supported in the funding initiative “Off the beaten track.” This funding initiative is aimed at researchers and scientists whose projects cannot be classified among the existing initiatives, but which to an exceptional degree investigate forward-looking issues.

The Charité Foundation founded by the entrepreneur Johanna Quandt promotes entrepreneurial behavior modifiers and innovative projects in research, teaching and patient care within Charité and her partner institutions. As a foundation it uses entrepreneurial business means to achieve their profit goals.

Contact

Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Unternehmenskommunikation
Stefanie Winde
Telefon: 030 450 570 400

VolkswagenStiftung
Kommunikation
Jens Rehländer
Telefon: 0511 8381 380

Stiftung Charité
Projektmanagement
Annika Weschler
Telefon: 030 450 570 576



Back to Overview

Press release

15.04.2011

United against cancer

Back to Overview

You are here:

German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research is launched

Today federal minister of science professor Dr. Annette Schavan announced the decision on the support of the German centers of health research. This allows the German Consortium for translational cancer research to begin its work. An international panel of experts certified the overall concept of the Consortium, a partnership between the German Cancer Research Center and seven academic sites of the highest excellence. The consortium is accordingly promoted to the extent of the contract: the annual budget of five million euros this year will gradually increase. From 2014, the funding will amount to approximately 30 million euros yearly.

The partnership of the German Cancer Research Center with seven University sites is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the German Cancer Aid and the German Cancer Research Center. The consortium aims to transfer the latest research results quickly into the patient's care.  "In the research of cancer, we have achieved decisive progress in recent years" says Professor Dr. Otmar D. Wiestler, Chairman of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ).  "Now it is time to transfer this knowledge from the laboratory into clinical practice."
The German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research offers us the ideal platform. "At each of the partner sites a Translation Centre is furnished, which is staffed conjointly by the German Cancer Research Center and the respective University.  "The collaboration of eight partners and the introduction of clinical expertise will also lend international visibility to Germany“, explains Professor Dr. Peter Michael Schlag, head of the Charité Comprehensive Cancer Centers (CCCC). The scientific concept of the partners in the German Consortium for translational cancer research provides seven translational research programs in the areas of signaling pathways of carcinogenesis, molecular diagnosis of cancer, tumor immunology, stem cells and cancer, imaging and radiotherapy, resistance to therapy and cancer prevention and early detection. The Charité comprehensive cancer center is involved in all programs except "Cancer prevention and early detection".

In addition, there will be five research platforms which are available to all partner locations: The clinical communications platform will enable the researchers to exchange findings and to diagnose patients subject to standard conditions, in order to be able to treat patients subsequently in the best way possible in larger clinical trials. Various service units allow outsourcing of routine laboratory work and thus their implementation according to uniform standards. They also provide common access to animals that develop certain cancers due to genetic changes in preclinical models. In drug development, it focuses on selected areas and on cooperation with the pharmaceutical industry. And finally scientists and medical doctors in the field of translational cancer research should be trained to the highest levels in the school of Oncology.

In November of last year, the international panel of experts decided on the choice of the partner sites of the consortium.  The DKFZ takes over the function of the Core Center and together with the university medical Center of Heidelberg, introduced the national center for tumor illnesses (NCT) into the syndicate. As partner locations were selected:

- CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin, Comprehensive Cancer Center
- Universitäts KrebsCentrum, Universitätsklinikum Carl GustavCarus, Technische Universität Dresden
- Westdeutsches Tumorzentrum, Universitätsklinikum Essen (in cooperation with Universitätsklinikum Düsseldorf)
- Universitäres Centrum für Tumorerkrankungen (UCT), Klinikum der Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe Universität Frankfurt (in cooperation with Universitätsklinikum Mainz)
- Tumorzentrum Ludwig Heilmeyer – Comprehensive Cancer Center Freiburg, Universitätsklinikum Freiburg
- Klinikum der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Klinikum der Technischen Universität München
- Südwestdeutsches Tumorzentrum – Comprehensive Cancer Center, Universitätsklinikum Tübingen

Prof. Wiestler, looking forward to the cooperation and the success of the consortium is convinced. "With these fine partners we will be able to achieve significant improvements for patients in many areas of cancer research and cancer medicine".

After the establishment of the consortium, the German Cancer Aid provides additional funding on request and after appropriate review for defined projects of the University partners.  "With this program the German Cancer Aid is an indispensable contributor to the consortium "says Prof. Wiestler.

Thus, the Federal Government pursues the nationwide strategy that the German Consortium for translational cancer research will be one of the four "German centers for health research", on which the Ministry has now decided. With it the Federal Government wants to promote a strategic cooperation of the best scientists and clinicians in the study of major human diseases on a national level.  The model provides for an equal partnership between non-university centers, universities and university hospitals.

Since 2009, the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases and the German Center for Diabetes Research have successfully implemented this model of national centers.

The Charité Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCCC) is funded by the German Cancer Aid as an Oncology Centre of excellence.  It is member of the Federation of European Tumor Centers (OECI) and is certificated by the German cancer society as an Oncological Center.
All Charité locations with their various professional disciplines involved in tumor therapy are networked in the CCCC to guarantee interdisciplinary and comprehensive care of tumour patients.  From clinical expert panels, closely linked with scientific research groups, new approaches to diagnosis and treatment of cancer are developed, applied and further developed.  Under the umbrella of CCCC, every patient should receive direct access to the latest national and international treatment strategies and treatment studies. The German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) is the largest biomedical research institute in Germany and a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. More than 2,500 employees, including more than 1,000 scientists explore the mechanisms of carcinogenesis, and work on the recognition of cancer risk factors.  They provide the basis for the development of new approaches in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.  In addition, employees of the cancer information service (KID) clarify to family members and interested members of the public, the widespread disease of cancer.  The Center is financed 90 percent by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and to 10 per cent by the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

Contact

Claudia Peter
Geschäftsbereich Unternehmenskommunikation
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t.: +49 30 450 570 503

Dr. Stefanie Seltmann
Leiterin Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum
Im Neuenheimer Feld 280
D-69120 Heidelberg
T: +49 6221 42 2854
F: +49 6221 42 2968



Back to Overview

Press release

15.04.2011

Success for Berlin at the German Center for Cardiovascular Research

Back to Overview

You are here:

In collaboration with the Charité, Max Delbrück Center and the Deutsches Herzzentrum Berlin

Berlin, with the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin, the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) and the Deutsches Herzzentrum Berlin (DHZB) is one of seven locations of the German Center for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK).  This was decided by an international panel of experts. The three partners will combine their cardiovascular and metabolic research in the DZHK under "Cardio Berlin". Associated partners are the German Institute for Nutrition Research in Potsdam-Rehbrücke (DIfE), as well as the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Berlin.

Charité and MDC with Cardio Berlin continue their successful cooperation begun in 1992. Also included for the first time is The Deutsche Herzzentrum. Prof. Walter Rosenthal, MDC's Scientific Director and Professor Annette Grüters-Kieslich, Dean of the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin, and Prof. Roland Hetzer, Medical Director of the Deutsche Herzzentrum, welcomed the decision and saw it as a great success for the researchers and clinicians. "In basic and clinical research they are among the best in Germany. They attested "Only in close cooperation with the clinics, is it possible to implement the results of basic research into practice at the sickbed. “ The successful Berlin application was co-ordinated by Prof. Vera Regitz-Zagrosek, director of the Institute for Gender Research in Medicine at the Charité.

Cardio Berlin is based on prevention and will also explore gender differences in cardiovascular disease.  To do this, clinicians and researchers of various disciplines work closely together, utilizing the most modern molecular genetic methods and imaging techniques, as well as holistic approaches (systems biology).

In addition to Berlin, the sites are Frankfurt, Göttingen, Greifswald, Hamburg/Kiel/Lübeck, Heidelberg/Mannheim and Munich.  They were selected from more than 30 applicants. The DZHK like the other German centers of health research is financed, 90 percent by the federal government and 10 percent by the states.

The establishment of the DZHK and other health research centers dates back to a competition for the establishment of centers for German health research tendered by the Federal Ministry of Research in the spring of 2010.  A major task of the German centers of health research should be to pool skills and thereby make a significant contribution to improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of common diseases.

The MDC is one of 17 institutions of the Hermann von Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers, the largest scientific organization in Germany.  Under the umbrella of "molecular medicine", the MDC scientists explore not only heart circulation - and metabolic diseases, but also cancer and diseases of the nervous system.  They want to understand the Formation of these complex illnesses in their origins - to understand the genes and their products, the proteins.  Since its foundation in 1992 the MDC has worked closely together with clinicians, in particular with those of the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin.  The core of this cooperation is the MDC and the Charité on the Campus Berlin-Buch. Who since 2007 have jointly operated the "Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC).  This Clinical Research Center, has been built up according to US-American models of clinical research centers.

Links

For more information:
Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen Fensterhttp://www.bmbf.de/
Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen Fensterhttp://www.helmholtz.de/
Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen Fensterhttp://www.dhzb.de/
Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen Fensterhttp://rki.de/
Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen Fensterhttp://www.dife.de/

Contact

Claudia Peter
Geschäftsbereich Unternehmenskommunikation
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t.: +49 30 450 570 503
Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen Fensterhttp://www.charite.de/


Barbara Bachtler
Pressestelle
Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin (MDC) Berlin-Buch
Robert-Rössle-Straße 10
13125 Berlin
Tel.: +49 (0) 30 94 06 - 38 96
Fax:  +49 (0) 30 94 06 - 38 33
Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen Fensterhttp://www.mdc-berlin.de/



Back to Overview

Press release

18.04.2011

New MRI methodology revolutionizes imaging of the beating heart

Back to Overview

You are here:

Scientists of the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin and the Max-Delbrück-Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch have developed a highly efficient approach for imaging the beating human heart. The images produced in one of the world's most powerful MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) systems whose power is equivalent to 150.000 times the earth’s magnetic field are of a much higher detail than cardiac images commonly generated in current clinical practice. The ultrahigh field approach permits a superb delineation between blood and heart muscle. Even subtle anatomical structures are made clearly visible.  The new procedure holds the promise to advance the capabilities of cardiac research and care as cardiac malfunctions can be diagnosed, treated and monitored at a much earlier point in disease progression.1

For cardiac imaging in ultrahigh fields new versions of multi-channel transmit and receive antennas - so-called radiofrequency coils - were developed at the Berlin Ultrahigh Field Facility (B.U.F.F.) located at Campus Buch. For this purpose a joint collaboration between the Charité, the MDC, the German Metrology Institute and Siemens Healthcare was initiated.2 To make use of the capacity and traits of the strong magnetic field a groundbreaking triggering device was developed to synchronize cardiac imaging with heart motion.3 This approach eliminates mis-synchronization frequently encountered with conventional triggering devices and hence helps to generate crisp cardiac images, a feature which might be compared with sport macros used in digital photography. "We correlate the image exposure with the heartbeat" explains the investigator of the study Prof. Thoralf Niendorf, whose work is published in the March issue of the journal for Magnetic Resonance Imaging.2 "Our procedure is immune to interference with strong magnetic fields so that we can compensate for the motion of the heart which results in high image quality free of cardiac motion induced blurring and artifacts".

The Berlin-based team led by Professor Thoralf Niendorf, Prof. Jeanette Schulz-Menger from the Charité and Dr. Bernd Ittermann from the German Metrology Institute used the new technologies to derive for the first time a clearly defined image of the beating heart in a magnetic field with a strength of 7.0 Tesla.  The advancement in imaging technology culminated in images of the beating heart with a spatial resolution which is by far superior to that previously available and which might come close to turning a 10 megapixel digital camera into a 50 megapixel digital camera. The novel technology tailored for cardiac MRI together with the quality of the anatomical and functional images have created excitement among the international imaging community. The first clinical results and experiences were very much encouragingand are the driving force for broader clinical studies.4

1. von Knobelsdorff-Brenkenhoff et al.: Cardiac Chamber quantification using magnetic resonance imaging at 7 Tesla--a pilot study. Eur Radiol. 2010 Dec;20(12):2844-52. Epub 2010 Jul 17. doi: 10.1007/s00330-010-1888-2. 2. Dieringer et al.: Design and application of a four-channel transmit/receive surface coil for functional cardiac imaging at 7T. Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 2011 March, 33(3):736-41. doi: 10.1002/jmri.22451. Epub 2011 Feb 1. 3. Frauenrath et al.: Acoustic cardiac triggering: a practical solution for synchronization and gating of cardiovascular magnetic resonance at 7 Tesla. J Cardiovasc Magn Reson., 2010 Nov 16;12:67. doi: 10.1186/1532-429X-12-67. 4. Niendorf et al.: Toward cardiovascular MRI at 7 T: clinical needs, technical solutions and research promises. Eur Radiol. 2010 Dec;20(12):2806-16. Epub 2010 Jul 31. doi: 10.1007/s00330-010-1902-8.

Links

Link zur Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterBerliner Ultrahigh Field Facility (B.U.F.F.)

Contact

Prof. Thoralf Niendorf
Lehrstuhl für Ultrahochfeld Magnetresonanz
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
Berliner Ultrahigh Field Facility
Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin (MDC) Berlin-Buch
t: +49 30 9406 4505



Back to Overview

Press release

10.05.2011

How a person remembers a touch

Back to Overview

You are here:

Neuroscientists of the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin have now been able for the first time to document deliberate control of touch sensations in human working memory.  It has been shown that the human brain can remember several touch sensations at the same time and consciously retrieve the touch if concentration is focused on these touches. "A new touch does not erase the memory of a previous touch from working memory. Rather, new and old tactile memories can persist independently of each another, once a person’s attention has registered the touches", said the study leader, whose work is now published in the current issue of the prestigious journal PNAS*.

The scientists of the Department for Neurology and the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience at the Charité pursued the question, in which form multiple touch sensations are represented in human working memory. Working memory is responsible, for example, for the temporary storage of information, which is important to understand the environment currently surrounding us.  In the present experiment, the test persons were stimulated by tactile stimulation devices (i.e. animating to the sense of touch), such as those used for reading Braille, delivering vibrations of two different frequencies to the index fingers. After stimulation, the participants were told which of the two frequencies they should compare with a subsequent test frequency.

In early brain regions in the "feeling center", where the information of the sense of touch is first directed and processed, systematic changes in cerebral activity occurred when subjects remembered a touch. These changes in activity, which were seen in the so-called alpha rhythm in the early brain regions, were however still unspecific with respect to the task-relevant information.
The memory of different touches, with the distinction between the two frequencies with which the subjects have been stimulated, takes place in higher regions of the brain, in the so-called frontal lobes. Here the researchers could identify brain waves (oscillations) of a specific wavelength, the so-called beta rhythm, which were systematically modulated by the memory of the two different vibration frequencies.  Of particular interest was the fact that the frontal beta activity is not limited to the most recently presented frequency. The test persons were also able to reproduce a previous frequency if they were asked to remember. These results indicate the existence of a quantitative tactile memory representation in the human frontal lobes. This memory representation can be controlled consciously. It is subject to the active control of individuals on the current contents of their memory.

*Spitzer B, Blankenburg F: Stimulus-dependent EEG activity reflects internal updating of tactile working memory in humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 May 2. [Epub ahead of print]

Contact

Dr. Bernhard Spitzer
Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Berlin
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 2093 6789



Back to Overview

Press release

07.07.2011

Charité Establishes NanoTherm® Therapy for the Treatment of Recurrent Brain Tumors

Back to Overview

You are here:

Novel treatment developed at Charité University Clinic

CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin has established a new treatment at the Clinic for Radiooncology, Campus Virchow, which offers selected patients a nanomedicine approach for the treatment of recurrent brain tumors. Researchers at Charité–developed the scientific basis for the nanotechnology-based cancer therapy. The clinical trial supporting the therapy’s European approval was also conducted in close collaboration with the Charité. MagForce Nanotechnologies AG, a Charité spin off company, is marketing the therapy.
The principle of the therapy is the use of nanoparticles containing iron oxide, which are injected into brain tumor in a procedure similar to a biopsy. The treatment is carried out in a magnetic field applicator (NanoActivator™), a machine that produces an alternating magnetic field and is very safe for humans. Through this high frequency magnetic field, the nanoparticles begin to oscillate and heat is produced from directly within the tumor tissue. Depending on the temperature reached and length of treatment, the tumor cells are either directly destroyed or sensitized for the accompanying chemotherapy or radiation.  This novel therapy has the potential to improve the survival for patients with recurrent glioblastoma, an especially malignant type of brain tumor.
 “I am pleased that after years of being involved in the research and development for NanoTherm® Therapy, we are now at the stage where we can offer this novel therapeutic approach to selected and not otherwise treatable patients suffering from recurrent glioblastomas,” said Prof. Volker Budach, Director of the Clinic for Radiotherapy.
“Here is another example of how the basic research we are supporting today has clinical applications in the future”, said Prof. Karl Max Einhäupl, CEO of Charité. “Charité has participated in all development phases of this novel medical technology and most importantly supported our researchers to realize the potential of their ideas, especially in the challenging field of nanomedicine.”
Currently, the social insurance companies do not generally reimburse this new treatment option so that payment decisions are based on individual applications.

Contact

Prof. Dr. Volker Budach
Klinik für Strahlentherapie
Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin
NanoTherm® Therapie
Augustenburger Platz 1
13353 Berlin

t: +49 30 450 557 073
nanotherm(at)charite.de



Back to Overview

Press release

02.08.2011

Disappearance of Genetic Material Allows Tumor Cells To Grow

Back to Overview

You are here:

Loss of a gene regulator is crucial for a rare type of skin cancer

Die Abbildung zeigt den genomischen Verlust von E2A in den Tumorzellen von 14 Patienten mit Sezary Syndrom.

Scientists at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin, Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, the Max-Planck-Institut für Molekulare Genetik Berlin, and four other German institutes succeeded in proving a specific gene loss in a certain human lymphoma, the genesis of which is largely unexplained to date. They investigated the so-called Sézary syndrome. This is an aggressive cancer disease from the group of primary skin lymphomas, the so-called "primary cutaneous lymphomas." The results of the study, which were published in the current issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine*, provide fundamentally new insights into the genesis and development of Sézary syndrome and possibly other human lymphomas as well.

Malignant Sézary syndrome is characterized by the reproduction of a special type of white blood cells in the skin of male and female patients. By contrast with most other skin lymphomas, patients with Sézary syndrome manifest not only skin contamination but also contamination of blood and lymph nodes by degenerate T cells even at the onset of the disease. The researchers investigated highly purified tumor cells from patients with Sézary syndrome using modern, high-resolution genetic procedures (the so-called array comparative genomic hybridization technique) for hitherto unknown genetic changes. In doing so they identified areas in the genotype of these tumor cells that have become lost in many of the patients examined. A detailed analysis of these areas showed that one of the most frequently affected genes codes for a so-called transcription factor. Transcription factors have key functions in the regulation of cellular gene activity.

"The partial loss of the gene for transcription factor E2A appears to play a very key role in this context because the gene is normally of great importance for natural lymphocyte development," explains Chalid Assaf from the Charité Klinik für Dermatologie, Venerologie und Allergologie. In mice a loss of this gene leads to the genesis of aggressive T cell lymphomas. However, a gene loss in one of the various human lymphoma classes had not yet been found so far.

The researchers also identified several E2A-regulated genes and signal paths in tumor cells, the mere deregulation of each of which is sufficient to enable a tumor to develop. "Loss of E2A in Sézary syndrome is of crucial importance for the aggressive behavior of tumor cells because it contributes to more rapid, uncontrolled growth of cells," emphasizes Stephan Mathas, a scientist at the Charité Klinik für Hämatologie und Onkologie and at MDC. Consequently, it was directly proved for the first time that E2A in humans has the function of a tumor suppressor. The researchers hope that these findings might in future possibly represent the basis for the development of new treatment concepts to offer patients with Sézary syndrome new and more effective therapies.

*Genomic loss of the putative tumor suppressor gene E2A in human lymphoma. Anne Steininger, Markus Möbs, Reinhard Ullmann, Karl Köchert, Stephan Kreher, Björn Lamprecht, Ioannis Anagnostopoulos, Michael Hummel, Julia Richter, Marc Beyer, Martin Janz, Claus-Detlev Klemke, Harald Stein, Bernd Dörken, Wolfram Sterry, Evelin Schrock, Stephan Mathas, and Chalid Assaf. J Exp Med. 2011 Jul 25. doi:10.1084/jem.20101785.

Contact

Dr. Markus Möbs
Klinik für Dermatologie, Allergologie und Venerologie
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 518213

Barbara Bachtler
Pressestelle
Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin (MDC) Berlin-Buch
in der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft
t: +49 30 94 06 38 96



Back to Overview

Press release

03.08.2011

Subjective Memory Impairment As a Sign of Alzheimer's Disease

Back to Overview

You are here:

Typical brain changes offer an approach toward early diagnosis

Scientists at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin, Universitätsklinikum Bonn, and Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen in Bonn succeeded for the first time in demonstrating that even in merely subjective cases of memory deterioration changes may be visible in certain brain structures. The study, published in the current issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry on August 1, supports the model whereby subjective memory impairment can be the first manifestation of Alzheimer's disease. Although not every individual with subjective memory impairment develops Alzheimer's disease, almost every patient with Alzheimer's disease initially develops subjective memory impairment that has not been possible to objectify until now.

Alzheimer's disease is the most frequent cause of dementia. The key to dementia prevention is diagnosis as early as possible. For some years now it has been a confirmed fact that in individuals who already have a slight objective memory impairment it is possible to diagnose the onset of Alzheimer's disease by means of imaging procedures and cerebrospinal fluid tests. However, it would be even better to reveal signs of such a disease at an even earlier stage. Researchers from Bonn and Berlin have now taken an important step in this direction: They found signs of brain function disorders in individuals who merely experience a subjective deterioration in memory without any reduced performance been detectable in objective behavioral tests.

The team led by Professor Frank Jessen (Bonn), Privatdozentin Susanne Erk, and Professor Henrik Walter (both at Charité) were able to demonstrate by functional magnetic resonance imaging that elderly people with subjective memory impairment already show functional alterations in the region of the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a brain structure that is responsible, inter alia, for memory formation and is affected first in Alzheimer's disease. In an experiment, individuals with subjective memory impairment manifested reduced activation of the hippocampus during a memory task. At the same time there was increased activation of the right frontal brain. "This increased frontal activation is probably of a compensatory nature," says Prof. Walter, head of the Mind and Brain Research Division at the Charité Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy. "It compensates for the hippocampal deficit, which may explain why in the memory tests of this group the performance was no worse than in a same-age control group without subjective memory impairment." Prof. Frank Jessen, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the Universitätsklinik Bonn, believes there may be clinical relevance for the future as well: "At least we have thus come closer to our goal of in future backing up the hitherto purely clinical early diagnosis of subjective memory impairment in suspected cases of Alzheimer's disease by conducting noninvasive objective brain examinations." 

*Erk S, Spottke A, Meisen A, Wagner M, Walter H, Jessen F (2011) Evidence for neuronal compensation during episodic memory in subjective memory impairment. Archives of General Psychiatry, 1. August.

Contact

Prof. Henrik Walter
Leiter des Forschungsbereichs „Mind and Brain“
Klinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie
Campus Charité Mitte
t: +49 30 450 517 141



Back to Overview

Press release

16.08.2011

New Treatment Approach for Alzheimer's Disease

Back to Overview

You are here:

Researchers plan to use specialized cells of the immune system

For the first time a research team at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin and Universitätsklinik Freiburg succeeded in documenting how the immune system can counteract the advancement of Alzheimer's disease. Within the scope of their neuroscience paper they showed that certain scavenger cells in the immune system, so-called macrophages, play a key role in this context. Furthermore, they were able to demonstrate how special cell-signaling proteins, so-called chemokines, mediate the defense process. The results of the study have now been published in the renowned Journal of Neuroscience*.     

Prof. Josef Priller, Director of Neuropsychiatry at Campus Charité Mitte, is head of the research team. The paper was sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research ('BMBF') and the German Research Foundation ('DFG'). For ten years now the scientists have been investigating the exact role of macrophages in neurodegenerative diseases. "Macrophages can reduce harmful deposits in the brain that are the cause of Alzheimer's disease," Prof. Priller explains.

In an animal model the research team was now able to show which certain subset of macrophages is responsible for reduction of the deposits. Contrary to earlier academic opinion, this defense reaction cannot be handled by the immune cells of the brain, the microglia, because they themselves are damaged by the pathological process. Instead, specialized bone marrow-derived macrophages are activated and directed into the brain to remove the toxic deposits. The carrier cells receive the command to specialize and infiltrate the brain in the form of certain cell-signaling proteins. The researchers managed to identify a specific chemokine for the first time.

This results in a completely new treatment approach for Alzheimer's disease. "In future we hope to be able to systematically introduce specialized scavenger cells to the brain and thus speed up the reduction of Alzheimer's disease deposits," says Prof. Priller. The researchers are confident that they have found the approach for a cell-based therapy with relatively few side effects.

*Mildner et al.: Distinct and non-redundant roles of microglia and myeloid subsets in mouse models of Alzheimer`s disease. Journal of Neuroscience, August 2011, 11159 –11171. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6209-10.2011

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen Fensterhttp://psy-ccm.charite.de

Contact

Prof. Josef Priller
Abteilung für Neuropsychiatrie
Klinik für Psychiatrie und Neuropsychiatrie
Campus Charité Mitte
t: +49 30 450 517 209



Back to Overview

Press release

29.08.2011

Prevention of sudden cardiac death

Back to Overview

You are here:

Charité-Scientists can predict the risk for life-threatening Arrhythmias

CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin and Universität Leiden developed a method to identify a subgroup of patients with myocardial infarction that is at increased risk for sudden cardiac death. In cardiac magnetic resonance tomography (CMR) the scientists are able to detect the extent of infarction-related damage to the heart muscle and assess the risk for life-threatening arrhythmias. The results were now published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology*.

Myocardial infarction often leads to permanent complications such as arrhythmias, heart insufficiency or heart failure. Physicians refer to this as chronic myocardial infarction. A chronically ill heart muscle often works with a severely decreased function and is at higher risk to develop dangerous arrhythmias that can lead to sudden cardiac death. To prevent this, patients usually receive an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). This device which is implanted like a pacemaker detects dangerous arrhythmias and delivers an electric shock to the heart muscle. In consequence normal sinus rhythm is reestablished. As it is difficult to predict who is really going to develop life-threatening arrhythmias after a myocardial infarction, physicians implant more preventive ICDs than needed. This results in a higher quantity of complications for patients and an enormous burden on national health systems. Therefore, the goal of the present study was to identify a method to improve the assessment of individual risk for developing dangerous arrhythmias. Prof. Jeannette Schulz-Menger and her team from the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC) of Charité and HELIOS-Krankenhaus Berlin Buch examined 52 patients with chronic myocardial infarction in CMR. With the use of contrast agents they were able to assess how much of the heart muscle was affected by the infarction. After ICD-implantation it proved that there was a significant association between relative infarct mass and development of arrhythmias. The depth of the scarred tissue in the heart muscle, the transmurality, previded the best prediction.

“We found a parameter that offers the chance to predict the individual risk for sudden cardiac death”, explains Prof. Schulz-Menger. “We hope to be able to supply every patient with the adequate therapy and avoid unnecessary costs and complications”, says Dr. Philipp Boyé, first author of the study.

*Boyé et al.: Prediction of Life-Threatening Arrhythmic Events in Patients With Chronic Myocardial Infarction by Contrast-Enhanced CMR. J Am Coll Cardiol Img 2011;4:871–9. DOI:10.1016/j.jcmg.2011.04.014

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterECRC

Contact

Prof. Jeannette Schulz-Menger
Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC) – Kardiologie
Campus Berlin Buch
t: +49 30 450 553 749



Back to Overview

Press release

02.09.2011

Endogenous Approach to the Prevention of Allergies

Back to Overview

You are here:

How the immune system can develop tolerance to allergens

Scientists at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin and the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz have clarified an endogenous mechanism that can prevent the development of allergies. They were able to show that certain cells of the immune system, so-called killer dendritic cells, are capable of eliminating allergy cells. The results of the study, which have now been published in the renowned Journal of Clinical Investigation*, open up new perspectives for strategies to protect against allergies.

The term allergen is used to describe a substance that is detected as being foreign on making contact with the organism and brings about excessive defense on the part of the immune system, an allergic reaction. It has been known for a long time now that in the event of repeated contact with a very low dose of an allergen the body can develop a kind of immunity to it. This process is referred to as "low zone tolerance." The exact mechanisms on which this immunity is based are still largely unknown. The present study was able to decipher important cellular mechanisms for the first time using a mouse model. The results were obtained in close collaboration between the Mainz research team led by Prof. Kerstin Steinbrink and the research team led by Prof. Marcus Maurer from the Charité Allergy Center. Killer dendritic cells, which are also described as the sanitary police, release a certain semiochemical on making contact with an allergen. In cells that facilitate the allergic reaction this so-called tumor necrosis factor triggers programmed cell death, apoptosis. As a result, it is not possible for an allergic reaction to develop. The very different personal degrees of ability to develop this "low zone tolerance" are probably also the reason why some individuals react to certain allergens and others do not.

"The results of the study are basically of relevance to everyone," says Prof. Maurer. "Especially people who have greater contact with allergenic substances run the risk of developing an allergy some day." They include, for example, people employed in hair salons and in the jewelry and fashion industries, but also hospital staff. "In our research paper we identified the mechanism on which the prevention of an allergy is based," Prof. Maurer explains. The dermatologist and allergist assumes that the results can in future be used in therapy and therefore to avoid allergies.

*Luckey et al.: T cell killing by tolerogenic dendritic cells protects from allergy in mice. Journal of Clinical Investigation, October 2011. [epub ahead of print]

Contact

Prof. Marcus Maurer
Allergie-Centrum-Charité/ECARF
Campus Charité Mitte
t: +49 30 450 518 043



Back to Overview

Press release

07.09.2011

Researchers Successfully Complete Genetic Expedition

Back to Overview

You are here:

Multiple sclerosis is primarily an immunological disease

Scientists at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin and Max-Delbrück-Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) have succeeded, in collaboration with 23 research teams from 15 different countries, in discovering a total of 29 new genetic variants that are involved in the genesis of multiple sclerosis (MS), an inflammatory disease of the nervous system. The researchers hope the findings obtained will generate innovative therapeutic approaches. The study was published in the renowned journal Nature* on August 11.

Multiple sclerosis, one of the most frequent diseases of the nervous system in young people, is characterized by damage caused to the nerve fibers and the myelin layer that surrounds the nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. This can, inter alia, lead to impaired vision, gait disorders, numbness, and incontinence.

The study confirmed 23 known genetic variants and identified 29 other ones for the first time. It became evident that many of the genes involved regulate key functions of the immune system and the activation of certain semiochemicals. For MS the research results confirm overlapping genetic variants that can also be found in other autoimmune diseases like Crohn's disease or type 1 diabetes. It was also possible to confirm the connection between vitamin D deficiency and MS due to two genetic variants.

Dr. Carmen Infante-Duarte, head of the "Experimental Neuroimmunology" research team at the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC), a joint institute run by Charité and the MDC in Berlin-Buch, points out the importance of the international cooperation on this study: "Multiple sclerosis is a result of interaction between numerous genes. Only in this broad-based international study comprised of 27,000 patients and control subjects was it possible to identify genetic changes that are clearly associated with the disease."

Prof. Alastair Compston from the University of Cambridge and Prof. Peter Donnelly from the University of Oxford, who coordinated the work of more than 250 international researchers in total, highlight the specific and general importance of the study: "After lengthy debate the investigation was able to produce evidence of the fact that multiple sclerosis must primarily be regarded as an immunological disease. Only such large-scale genetic studies like ours are capable of presenting the underlying mechanisms of such complex diseases as MS."

In the researchers' opinion the new research results provide a basis for innovative therapeutic approaches, not only for the 400 patients at Charité who took part in the study but also for the 2.5 million patients worldwide.

Genetic risk and a primary role for cell-mediated immune mechanisms in multiple sclerosis. The International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium & the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium. Nature. 2011 Aug 10;476(7359):214-9. doi: 10.1038/nature10251.

Contact

Dr. Carmen Infante Duarte
AG Experimentelle Neuroimmunologie
Experimental and Clinical Research Center – ECRC
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t:  +49 30 450 539 055



Back to Overview

Press release

30.09.2011

Universitätsmedizin Berlin honors the victims

Back to Overview

You are here:

Charité returns twenty human skulls to Namibia

chin. exorzistischer Talisman aus dem 19./frühen 20. Jh.
chinesischer exorzistischer Talisman
chinesischer exorzistischer Talisman
chinesischer exorzistischer Talisman

In a solemn ceremony on Friday, September 30th CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin officially returned twenty Namibian skulls to the Heritage Council of Namibia. The sculls originated from Herero and Nama people who came from the former German Southwest Africa. They had been killed during their uprising against German colonial rule between 1904 and 1908. Their remains had been stored in different scientific collections in Berlin since the beginning of the 20th century and some of them did not get to Charité until after 1990.

 „With this step we face up to an inglorious chapter of German history”, Prof. Karl Max Einhäupl, CEO of Charité explained. He brought back into mind the sufferings the Herero and Nama peoples had to bear during the terrible war led by the German colonial forces. It was the first example of racial colonialism that later became apparent again in National Socialism. “As a medical doctor and scientist myself, it is especially painful for me to realize that even physicians worked in the service of this early form of racism”, Prof. Einhäupl added.

He is convinced that, being a scientific institution, Charité has to meet the challenge to critically analyze the history of the human remains, Prof. Einhäupl continued. The management board of Charité accepts its historic responsibility to the Herero and Nama. “With this return of the human remains Charité wants to express respect and contribute to the honorable remembrance of the victims. We deeply deplore the crimes of those days that were committed in the name of a perverted concept of scientific progress, and it is our sincere desire to apologize.”

Charité is the first institution in Germany to hand back human remains. The skulls that had been stored in Charité mainly belonged to adults between 20 and 40 years of age. Among them were four women, 15 men and one little boy aged three or four. Eleven of them were Nama people; nine belonged to the Herero. It was not possible to determine the cause of death in any of the cases. The results were obtained in a scientific study supported by the German Research Foundation ('DFG'). At the request of the indigenous Namibian communities the researchers had compiled a documentation, which along with the skulls was now handed over to the Namibian side.  

Contact

Claudia Peter
GB Unternehmenskommunikation
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t.+49 30 450 570 503



Back to Overview

Press release

06.10.2011

New Findings Concerning Function of the Hippocampus

Back to Overview

You are here:

Researchers decipher mechanism for memory formation

A research team from Berlin, Munich and Haifa has presented new findings concerning the function of the hippocampus, a region of the brain that is important for memory formation. The researchers investigated cellular mechanisms of high-frequency rhythms, which play a key role in memory processes, and possibly also in various brain disorders, albeit in a different manner.

In the current issue of the Neuron journal the research team of scientists in the NeuroCure Excellence Cluster at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin, the Bernstein Centers in Berlin and Munich, and the University of Haifa, presents new findings concerning mechanisms of hippocampal rhythms. Within the scope of memory formation the hippocampus acts as a kind of intermediate memory for the brain. In rest phases, such as during sleep, information that was previously taken in is consolidated and passed on to other regions of the brain for final storage. This hippocampal function is linked to rhythms, so-called oscillations. These rhythms are very similar to the brain waves measured by a physician using an electroencephalograph. The development of these rhythms depends on organized interaction between a multitude of nerve cells. Research in recent years demonstrated that suppression – or intensification – of brain oscillations can impair or improve learning.

In their study the researchers are now concentrating on so-called ripple oscillation, a very fast rhythm at a frequency of 200 Hz, the mechanisms of which are still little understood. They investigated electrical currents in individual hippocampal cells that occur during ripple oscillation. "Our results show directly for the first time how excitatory and inhibitory impulses interact during ripples on a very fast timescale," reports Nikolaus Maier, a neuroscientist at Charité. Understanding these mechanisms is important, not only within the scope of memory research but also because any change in synchronous activity can have fatal consequences. "Disturbance of the hippocampal rhythms can be a potential cause of pathological conditions like epilepsy, schizophrenia or memory impairments in Alzheimer's disease," explains Dietmar Schmitz, coordinator of the NeuroCure Excellence Cluster. That is why the results now published also represent a basis for researching future approaches to clinical treatment.

Contact

Prof. Dietmar Schmitz

Sprecher Exzellenzcluster NeuroCure

CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin                 

t: +49 30 450 539 054

www.neurocure.de



Back to Overview

Press release

17.10.2011

Produce energy in an environmentally friendly way

Back to Overview

You are here:

New findings on hydrogen production

For the first time, scientists at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin succeeded in unmasking the exact structure of a hydrogen generating enzyme. Therewith the authors deliver new findings on the development of biotechnological procedures for the production of hydrogen that can be used to generate and store energy. The results were now published online in the renowned Journal Nature*.

Molecular hydrogen is thought of as the energy carrier of the future and is already being tested as a promising renewable energy source, for example as fuel for vehicles. Certain microorganisms like bacteria and algae possess enzymes that release hydrogen. With the help of these hydrogen producing enzymes, the so called hydrogenases, scientists aim to produce hydrogen in artificial systems in order to generate energy. However, most of the hydrogenases are irreversibly inactivated or even destroyed by oxygen, which limits their biotechnological application. For this reason, hydrogenases that maintain their activity in the presence of oxygen are increasingly becoming the center of scientific interest. The research group of Prof. Spahn, director of the Institut für Physik und Biophysik of the Charité and Patrick Scheerer, head of the working group Proteinstrukturanalyse at the institute, succeeded for the first time in depicting the three-dimensional structure of such a hydrogenase. In cooperation with Prof. Bärbel Friedrich and Dr. Oliver Lenz from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin they were able to identify a novel iron-sulphur cluster in the enzyme´s centre. This iron-sulphur centre acts as an electronic switch in the course of detoxification of detrimental oxygen. With this discovery, the scientists could substantiate the hypothesis that these particular hydrogenases are able to convert both hydrogen and oxygen in a catalytical manner.  During catalysis, oxygen becomes reduced to harmless water.

“These discoveries can have great impact on the design of biotechnological hydrogen-converting catalysts”, says Patrick Scheerer. This is already the fifth study since 2008 that the Institut für Physik und Biophysik of the Charité publishes in “Nature”.

*Johannes Fritsch, Patrick Scheerer, Stefan Frielingsdorf, Sebastian Kroschinsky, Barbel Friedrich, Oliver Lenz, Christian M. T. Spahn: The crystal structure of an oxygen-tolerant hydrogenase uncovers a novel iron-sulphur centre. Nature, [epub ahead of print], doi: 10.1038/nature10505 (2011)

Links

Link zum Institut für Physik und Biophysik: http://biophysik.charite.de/

Contact

Prof. Christian Spahn
Direktor des Instituts für Physik und Biophysik
Charité Campus Mitte  
t: +49 30 450 524 131

Patrick Scheerer
Arbeitsgruppe Proteinstrukturanalyse des Instituts für Physik und Biophysik
t: +49 30 450 524 178
Charité Campus Mitte



Back to Overview

Press release

20.10.2011

Preeclampsia: early detection and immediate treatment

Back to Overview

You are here:

A new Assay can predict the course of this hypertensive disorder

A blood test can help to assess whether a pregnant woman who suffers from pregnancy-induced hypertension, so-called preeclampsia, is at risk for an imminent delivery. This knowledge can be used to determine the due date as well as avoid complications for mother and child. This was now reported by a team of scientists at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology*. The assay was put to the test in collaboration with Universitätsklinik Leipzig and five other European research centers.

Preeclampsia is the most common of the dangerous pregnancy complications. It is characterized by elevated blood pressure, protein in the urine and accumulation of excess fluid beneath the skin. If not treated in time, preeclampsia may progress to eclampsia, characterized by tonic-clonic seizures which can possibly result in maternal and infant death.

Dr. Stefan Verlohren from the Klinik für Geburtsmedizin and his team examined a total of 630 pregnant women. 388 of those were having a normal pregnancy whereas 164 suffered from preeclampsia. The scientists closely observed the remaining time of pregnancy in patients with preeclampsia. In cases where the concentration of two certain placenta-derived growth factors, so-called sFlt-1 and PlGF, exceeded a certain value the duration of pregnancy was significantly shorter. In patients with especially high test results delivery resulted within 48 hours.

“With this test we can assess the severity of preeclampsia and give a short-term prognosis of the disease course”, explains Dr. Verlohren. Further studies will have to evaluate the test´s validity in women who have an elevated risk of developing preeclampsia.

*Stefan Verlohren, Ignacio Herraiz, Olav Lapaire, Dietmar Schlembach, et al.: The sFlt-1/PlGF ratio in different types of hypertensive pregnancy disorders and its prognostic potential in preeclamptic patients. In: American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology - 01 August 2011. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajog.2011.07.037

Links

Opens external link in current windowhttp://geburtsmedizin.charite.de/forschung_lehre/forschung/arbeitsgruppen/praeeklampsie

Contact

Dr. Stefan Verlohren
Klinik für Geburtsmedizin
Campus Virchow-Klinikum
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 664 445



Back to Overview

Press release

23.11.2011

Discovery of a new muscle repair gene

Back to Overview

You are here:

Einzelne Muskelfaser bei einer 630 fachen Vergrößerung. Gelb: Eine Satellitenzelle, die von außen an die Muskelfaser angeheftet ist. Blau: Zellkerne der Muskelfaser (Bildnachweis: Can Ding)
Einzelne Muskelfaser bei einer 630 fachen Vergrößerung. Gelb: Eine Satellitenzelle, die von außen an die Muskelfaser angeheftet ist. Blau: Zellkerne der Muskelfaser (Bildnachweis: Can Ding)

An international team of researchers from England and the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin has presented new findings regarding the function of muscle stem cells, which are published in the current issue of the journal Nature Genetics*. The researchers investigated several families with children suffering from a progressive muscle disease. Using a genetic analysis technique known as “next generation sequencing” the scientists identified a defective gene called MEGF10 responsible for the muscle weakness.
The children suffer from severe weakness of the body musculature and of the inner organs like the diaphragm, the main breathing muscle. The consequences are that the little patients are only able to move in a wheelchair and need continuous artificial respiration. These children often have to be tube-fed as well since the musculature of the esophagus does not work properly.

But which role plays the discovered gene here and is involved in muscle growth? In healthy humans the muscle stem cells, so called “satellite cells” stick on muscle fibers and normally remain inactive. If a muscle fiber becomes damaged or muscle growth is stimulated, as it is in muscle training, the satellite cells start to divide, fuse with the muscle fiber and so cause muscle growth. This process is disrupted in the ill children. For them, the necessary protein which is responsible for the attachment of the satellite cells cannot be developed by the mutated MEGF10 gene. Therefore, these cells cannot stick on the muscle fibre – the muscle cannot be repaired any longer.

Prof. Markus Schuelke from the NeuroCure Clinical Research Center of the Cluster of Excellence NeuroCure and the Department of Neuropediatrics of the Charité and Prof. Colin A. Johnson from the Institute of Molecular Medicine of the University Leeds, who jointly directed this research project have emphasized the importance of these new methods for genome analysis and give a positive outlook for the future. “This is good news for families with unexplained rare genetic disorders. These methods enable us to sequence hundreds or even thousands of genes at the same time and discover novel genetic defects even in single patients quickly but also cost effective” explains Markus Schuelke. “Many patients and their families often have been through a diagnostic Odyssey and can now hope that the cause of their disease will be found through this approach.”

*Logan, C.V. et.al.: Mutations in MEGF10, a regulator of satellite cell myogenesis, cause early onset myopathy, areflexia, respiratory distress and dysphagia. Nature Genetics 2011 Nov 20, doi: 10.1038/ng.995.

Contact

Prof. Markus Schuelke
NeuroCure Clinical Research Center
Klinik für Pädiatrie mit Schwerpunkt Neurologie
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 566 468



Back to Overview

Press release

02.12.2011

Kidney patients have better chances in Germany

Back to Overview

You are here:

Survival rates are more favorable than in the US

In complex cases of kidney failure, medical care in Germany evidently operates better than in the US. Scientists at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin were able to show that German patients who have an increased risk of rejection reactions due to prior immunization have better survival rates than people with diseases of similar severity in the US. This applies not only during dialysis but also to the period after receiving a new kidney. The researchers regard the reasons for this as being not only the better quality of dialysis in Germany but particularly a highly efficient European organ donation system, with the aid of which data of organ donors and recipients are recorded, analyzed and thus optimally assigned to suitable patients. The results of the study were published in a "Letter to the Editor" in the "New England Journal of Medicine"*.

Some people on the waiting list for a new kidney suffer from a prior immunization event, so-called HLA sensitization. This can occur after pregnancies or with recipients of blood donations. In the blood, antibodies form against tissue characteristics, which make it difficult for the body to accept transplants from certain donors. Studies show a very high rejection rate for donor organs if the patient is sensitized to HLA. Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University had endeavored to remove the antibodies from the blood of HLA-sensitized patients by replacing the blood plasma, so-called plasmapheresis. In conjunction with increased suppression of the immune system this complex procedure initially leads to successful transplantation in these patients but it presents further risks for the patient: Almost 10 percent of patients treated in this way died during the first year following transplantation while 80 percent were still alive after five years. By comparison, the data obtained at Charité shows that even without plasmapheresis about 90 percent of transplant recipients with similar demographic data were still alive after five years. In light of these figures, Prof. Klemens Budde, a senior doctor at the Medical Department, Division of Nephrology, Campus Charité Mitte, regards such desensitization programs as "unnecessary." He says that procedures like the "acceptable mismatch program" in Europe, where in an elaborate procedure the best donor in each case is sought for the sensitized patients on the waiting list, are far more suitable for high-risk patients. Due to the improved tissue compatibility less intensive suppression of the immune system is adequate, as a result of which there are fewer side effects.

Taking a look at dialysis patients on the waiting list also indicates better medical care in Germany than in the US. In this group almost nine percent of US patients died during the first year while 34 percent had died after five years. By comparison, in Berlin and Brandenburg about 90 percent of dialysis patients on the waiting list at Charité were still alive after five years. "Taking a look at the US draws our attention to the weaknesses of the American healthcare system. We should guard against implementing such programs in Europe," says Prof. Budde, summing up in an article published in “Deutsches Ärzteblatt”.

*Huber L, Naik M, Budde K. Desensitization of HLA-incompatible kidney recipients. N Engl J Med. 2011 Oct 27;365(17):1643; author reply 1644-5. PubMed PMID: 22029992.

Contact

Prof. Klemens Budde
Medizinische Klinik mit Schwerpunkt Nephrologie
Campus Charité Mitte
t: +49 30 450 514 002



Back to Overview

Press release

16.01.2012

Sugar for the Brain

Back to Overview

You are here:

Charité scientists decipher mechanism to prevent programmed cell death of nerve cells

Oxygen and glucose are the food of our brain. If they are absent, such as during a stroke, nerve cells die. An international research team at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany, and McMaster University, Canada, has discovered a novel mechanism to prevent this cell death. The results of the study have now been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.

Brief periods of oxygen deprivation can act like a training session for cells in the human body. As a result, they are better able to survive longer periods of oxygen deprivation – they are “prepared”, so to speak. In addition, it is known that oxygen deficiency also affects sugar metabolism. However, sugar metabolism and programmed death of a cell so far have been regarded as independent events. A research team led by the two scientists Philipp Mergenthaler and Andreas Meisel, who work together at the NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence at the Charité, now explains the link between these two processes. The survival of the cell is regulated by a key enzyme of sugar metabolism, the so-called hexokinase II. This enzyme alters the sugar nutrient glucose in such a way that it can be processed by the cell. The researchers discovered that this enzyme is activated in the nerve cells of the brain after a lack of oxygen. This happens, for example in the case of a stroke, a circulatory disorder of the brain, resulting in insufficient oxygen and nutrient supplies in the brain. The enzyme then plays a protective role. "This self-protection of the nerve cell represents an important basis for further research, from which it may be possible to develop optimized stroke therapies," says Meisel.

However, the molecular mechanisms of the oxygen deficiency and altered cellular metabolism not only play a role for stroke, but are also very important for tumor development and the defense against infections by the immune system. Consequently, the enzyme is held responsible for alterations in sugar metabolism of malignant tumors. However, if there is glucose deficiency in the cell and normal oxygen supplies, it can also cause cell death. "Understanding the basic mechanism of how sugar metabolism regulates cell death might thus be used to protect against stroke, but could also be used to selectively cause cell death in malignant tumors," Mergenthaler explains. The mechanism how sugar metabolism regulates cell death thus fundamentally expands the basic medical knowledge of many diseases.

Originalpublikation: Mergenthaler P, Kahl A, Kamitz A, van Laak V, Stohlmann K, Thomsen S, Klawitter H, Przesdzing I, Neeb L, Freyer D, Priller J, Collins TJ, Megow D, Dirnagl U, Andrews DW, Meisel A. Mitochondrial Hexokinase II (HKII) and phosphoprotein enriched in astrocytes (PEA15) form a molecular switch governing cellular fate depending on the metabolic state. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012; published ahead of print January 10,2012. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1108225109

NeuroCure is a Cluster of Excellence in the framework of the Excellence Initiative funded by the German federal and state governments since 2007. The interdisciplinary research alliance crosslinks basic neuroscience research and clinical application to translate scientific findings on the functioning of the nervous system and neurological diseases to effective therapies.

Contact

Dr. Philipp Mergenthaler
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
NeuroCure Clinical Research Center
t: +49 30 450 560 020



Back to Overview

Press release

23.01.2012

World's Largest Study on the Most Common Cancer in Children

Back to Overview

You are here:

Charité and project partners research optimal therapy for leukemia relapses

Under an EU project now launched, CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin is coordinating the largest study in the world concerned with the fight against the most common type of cancer in children, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Within the scope of the IntReALL project (Study for Children with Relapsed ALL) relapses (recurrences) are being researched in cases where ALL has already been treated, so that more young patients can be permanently cured. ALL relapse is the most common cause of death among children suffering from cancer. While for new cases of this type of leukemia the chances of survival have risen considerably over the past three decades, the outlook for young patients with a relapse is far worse.

The aim of IntReALL is to develop an optimized, internationally valid standard therapy for children with ALL relapse. Based on this best possible standard therapy the researchers plan to test a series of new substances with regard to their efficacy in this group of patients. "We are convinced that with this approach we will also be able to considerably reduce the death rate for children with relapse," says study coordinator Dr. Arend von Stackelberg, who is in charge of Pediatric Oncology / Hematology at Campus Virchow-Klinikum: "For the first time, a large number of clinics involved offers an opportunity to substantiate therapy progress with evidence-based methods."

In Germany, acute lymphoblastic leukemia affects about 500 children and young persons a year, of whom about 70 on average suffer a relapse. The fact that ALL is so rare makes it more difficult to conduct comprehensive studies. This is where the international large-scale project, IntReALL, begins: A total of 23 mainly European partners – including clinics and companies – will be cooperating in the development of an optimized standard therapy, coordinated by Charité. They include Hannover Medical School, the University of Zurich and the Austrian St. Anna Children's Cancer Research Institute, but also the Stockholm Karolinska Institute and Oxford University. The EU Commission is sponsoring the 5-year project within the scope of the 7th Research Framework Program with around six million euros, under the title: IntReALL – International study for treatment of childhood relapsed ALL 2010 with standard therapy, systematic integration of new agents, and establishment of standardized diagnostic and research (HEALTH-F2-2011-278514).

Contact

Dr. Arend von Stackelberg
Leiter Pädiatrische Onkologie / Hämatologie
Klinik für Pädiatrie mit Schwerpunkt Onkologie und Hämatologie
Campus Virchow-Klinikum
t: +49 30 450 666 833



Back to Overview

Press release

25.01.2012

New exhibition: Ilana Halperin. Steine

Back to Overview

You are here:

Ilana Halperin: Geothermally Occurring Sculptures
Ilana Halperin: Geothermally Occurring Sculptures 2011, c-print Courtesy the artist
Versteinertes Vogelnest mit Ei
Versteinertes Vogelnest mit Ei, Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, Glasgow
Schering Stiftung
Die Ausstellung Ilana Halperin. Steine wird ermöglicht durch die Schering Stiftung.

Perhaps for the first time, a striking new solo exhibition investigates the intersection between body stones and geology – new landmass formed inside and outside the body. Steine (Stones) by Glasgow-based artist Ilana Halperin (b1973, New York) draws inspiration from the connections between the body’s physical geology and that of the Earth we inhabit.

Inspired by the collection of stones at the Berliner Medizinhistorisches Museum der Charité – initially created by the 18th century anatomists, or 'body mineralogists', JG Walter and FA Walter – and continuing through to new acquisitions of stones formed within the recent past, Halperin has made a series of new works. These include etchings, woodcuts, a film and innovative sculptures formed in the geothermal pools of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. Together with sculptures created in the petrifying springs of Fontaines Pétrifiantes de Saint-Nectaire in France, the artist’s work lies at the very heart of a geology produced by both the body and the Earth. Geological objects from the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin and the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow will also be on show within the exhibition. In addition, the oldest known object on Earth, the Allende meteorite and the largest known bladder stone in the world will be on display.

The project has been commissioned by the Berliner Medizinhistorisches Museum der Charité and generously funded by the Ernst Schering Foundation, Berlin. The foundation is dedicated to promoting new dialogues between science and art. Running simultaneously to this exhibition the Ernst Schering Foundation is showing the exhibition Hand Held Lava at their own Project Room, featuring Ilana Halperin’s exploration of  volcanic phenomena. Additional support has been provided by Creative Scotland, British Council and Blue Lagoon, Iceland.

Halperin’s creative output focuses upon geological activity and phenomena in an engagement with our understanding of time. Her approach combines fieldwork in diverse locations: Hawaii, Iceland, France, China, in museums, archives and laboratories. Her art practice also develops in collaboration with geological specialists such as The Global Volcanism Program, British Geological Survey and Earthwatch Institute.

Her work has featured in many significant exhibitions including Volcano at Compton Verney, 2010; Estratos curated by Nicolas Bourriaud, 2008; Sharjah Biennial 8, 2007 and Experimental Geography curated by Nato Thompson, 2008 – 2011. She has been the recipient of numerous awards including a Creative Scotland Artist Award; a British Council Darwin Now Award and an Alchemy Fellowship, Manchester Museum. She has recently been appointed the first Artist Fellow at the National Museum of Scotland, culminating in a solo exhibition at N.M.S. in the Edinburgh Art Festival summer 2013. She has also been appointed as the Artist-Curator of the geology collection of The Music Hall (the new Shrewsbury Museum) in the town of Charles Darwin’s birth.

Curators: Sara Barnes (Independent Curator, Berlin), Andrew Patrizio (Professor of Scottish Visual Culture, University of Edinburgh)

Exhibition Opening: January 26, 2012, 7 – 9 pm
Exhibition dates:  27.01. – 15.07.2012
Tuesday – Sunday 10 am – 5 pm; Wednesday and Saturday 10 am – 7 pm
Adults 7.00 EUR / Reduced 3.50 EUR

The artist will attend the press conference. After the press conference there will be the possibility to take part in a guided tour through the exhibition “Ilana Halperin. Steine” at the “Berliner Medizinhistorisches Museum der Charité“. Afterwards, there will be offered a transfer to Ernst Schering Foundation for visiting the exhibition “Hand Held Lava”.

Running simultaneously to this exhibition the Ernst Schering Foundation is showing the exhibition Hand Held Lava Ilana Halperin. HAND HELD LAVA
Ernst Schering Foundation, Unter den Linden 32-34, 10117 Berlin
Exhibition Opening: Thursday, February 2, 2012, at 7p.m.
Exhibition Dates: 03.02. – 05.05.2012
Monday through Saturday: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Free admission A publication in English and German featuring Halperin’s work and both exhibitions will be published in the spring.

Downloads

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen Fensterwww.bmm.charite.de

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen Fensterhttp://www.scheringstiftung.de/

Contact

Prof. Thomas Schnalke
Berliner Medizinhistorisches Museum der Charité
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 536 122



Back to Overview

Press release

27.01.2012

Aging research in Berlin proceeds

Back to Overview

You are here:

German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) to support the second Berlin Aging Study with 6.3 million Euro

After the success of the first Berlin Aging Study (BASE-I), the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) has decided to support the continuation of this research project. In BASE-II, scientists will aim for a better understanding of core mechanisms of successful, normal, and pathological aging. Prof. Steinhagen-Thiessen from CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin will chair the multidisciplinary Steering Committee.

The funding covers a period of three years. Within this period, 2.200 adult Berlin residents will be thoroughly examined, integrating information on their physical well-being with genetic, immunological, psychological, and socio-economic data. BASE-II grew out of the multidisciplinary team of BASE-I, and involves some of the same researchers. As Prof. Steinhagen-Thiessen noted, “The results of BASE-I already hinted at many modifiable risk factors for disease in old age. We are now in a much better position to identify, understand, and eventually manipulate these risk factors, using more sophisticated methods than those that were available for BASE-I.” Data from BASE-I, which started in 1990–2009, were used in many different fields of research and have been instrumental in changing the perception of aging and the elderly.

Compared to BASE-I, the addition of a group of younger controls in BASE-II means that the researchers will also be able to follow the development of age-associated alterations presaging disease in middle age. The inclusion of genetic and immunological data is completely novel in this respect. In this way, the researchers hope to gain a better understanding of the trajectories of aging and disease seen in different individuals. BASE-II will be coordinated by a multidisciplinary Steering Committee. Along with Elisabeth Steinhagen-Thiessen, Ulman Lindenberger of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Gert G. Wagner of the German Federal Institute for Economic Research, Lars Bertram of the Max-Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics (all Berlin), and Graham Pawelec of the Center for Medical Research, University of Tübingen, are its members.

Contact

Prof. Elisabeth Steinhagen-Thiessen
Forschungsgruppe Geriatrie
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 4594 1900



Back to Overview

Press release

16.02.2012

Successful Basic Research on Defense against Infections and Cancer

Back to Overview

You are here:

Scientists discover new defense mechanism

picture.jpg
Cells dying from an infectious virus alarm killer T cells. Dendritic cells infected with a virus deliver the first activation signal for killer T cells through their T-cell receptors. Scientists discovered, that virus infected, dying cells also alarm killer T cells. Due to the viral infection, dying cells release the alarmin interleukin-33. This second signal leads to the complete activation of killer T cells. They reproduce quickly and effectively kill the cells infected with the virus.

Research groups from Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the University of Geneva have discovered a new way of improving vaccines against infectious diseases and for use in cancer therapies. Scientists have shown a basic new mechanism that stimulates the body’s own alarm signals in case of viral infection to animate the immune system to maximum performance.

Viral infections activate so-called killer T cells. These form an important part of the body’s defense. They can recognize and destroy cells that are infected with viruses or have degenerated into cancer cells. Thus, killer T cells would be an important mechanism in vaccines against HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, malaria, and in cancer therapies. To date, there are no vaccines available for any of these diseases. Killer T cells are activated by dendritic cells. These coordinate the body’s immune response.

The German-Swiss research group, surrounding Prof. Max Löhning from Charité and Prof. Daniel Pinschewer from University of Geneva, has now discovered a second mechanism that indicates how a viral infection stimulates killer T cells to maximum performance. Prof. Löhning explains: “The virus-infected, dying cells ring the alarm bells to the killer T cells themselves.

"When viruses destroy infected cells, cell matter is released that is usually invisible to killer T cells. This matter includes so-called alarmins. The scientists have discovered that killer T cells recognize the alarmin interleukin-33. In case of cell death, the cells that form the framework of the spleen and lymph nodes and are in direct proximity to killer T cells, release this alarmin.

In experiments with mice, researchers determined that mice missing the interleukin-33 gene failed to generate large numbers of killer T cells upon viral infection. The few cells remaining were only barely active. Conversely, administering the relevant alarmin during vaccination led to a large increase in killer T cells. These new findings form an important basis for the development of effective vaccines against infectious diseases and for cancer therapies.

Downloads

Links

Link to article:
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2012/02/08/science.1215418.abstract

Link to clinic:
http://rheumatologie.charite.de/

Contact

Prof. Max Löhning
Medizinische Klinik mit Schwerpunkten Rheumatologie und Klinische Immunologie
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin   
t: +49 30 2846 0760



Back to Overview

Press release

20.02.2012

The Path to Personalized Breast Cancer Therapy

Back to Overview

You are here:

Charité starts new EU research project RESPONSIFY

Adjusting breast cancer therapy to individual patients to avoid ineffective treatment: Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin and eleven partner institutions from six countries have set this as their goal. They have launched the EU research project RESPONSIFY.

Prof. Carsten Denkert, project director at the Charité Institute of Pathology, has explained that the key to success will be the development of new biomarker tests. Biomarker tests indicate whether and how a treatment affects the individual patient. The tests should make response prediction easier, even before surgical tumor removal, in order to determine which therapy is most promising for a patient.

By beginning treatment prior to surgery (neoadjuvant therapy), the tumor should be significantly minimized preoperatively. Only then do doctors remove the remaining tumor tissue. Usually the procedure, in most breast cancer cases, is the other way around: Only after the removal and examination of the tumor do doctors choose a therapy. “The advantage of neoadjuvant therapy is that the effective response of the therapy on the tumor is immediately visible,” explains Denkert, “This is why we are better able to judge which biomarkers are appropriate for directing the therapy.”

As in many other industrial nations, breast cancer in Germany is the most common form of cancer in women. More than 55,000 women in this country are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.

Research within the RESPONSIFY project is connected very closely to clinical studies by the German Breast Group (GBG), so that results can be applied in clinical practice more quickly. Under the scientific direction of Assistant Professor Dr. Sibylle Loibl (GBG), other institutions including the Stockholm Karolinska Institutet, the French Institut Gustave Roussy and University College London, as well as numerous small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) from various European countries are working together with Charité on this endeavour. The EU commission is financing the three-year project in the course of the 7th Framework Programme with approximately 6 million euro under the title “RESPONSIFY – Genome-based biomarkers leading to validated molecular diagnostic tests for response prediction in breast cancer” (Grant Agreement Number HEALTH- F5-2012-278659).

Contact

Prof. Carsten Denkert
Institut für Pathologie
Charité Campus Mitte
t: +49 30 450 536 047



Back to Overview

Press release

22.02.2012

Cholesterol-lowering medication can protect against depression

Back to Overview

You are here:

Researchers at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin and the University of California San Francisco have studied the link between medication taken for cardiovascular disease and the development of depression. In their studies, scientists have determined that a particular class of medication, i.e. statins, can reduce the risk of developing depression. Statins are one of the most commonly prescribed medications worldwide and have a cholesterol-lowering effect. They are used particularly to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

To date, little is known about the effects of statins on symptoms of depression in patients with heart disease. Research results are of importance because depression significantly reduces chances of recovery in patients with cardiovascular disease. Depression influences a person’s behavior and can lead to inadequate exercise, lack of social contact and neglecting to take prescription medication regularly. Furthermore, biological changes due to depression are also known, such as an increased release of stress hormones and higher inflammatory parameters. This, in turn, can cause deterioration of a patient’s health.

Together with his research group, Prof. Christian Otte, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at Charité, looked into the question of whether patients with cardiovascular disease taking statins are less likely to develop depression. Together with his American colleague, Mary Whooley, he examined about 1,000 patients with cardiovascular disease over a period of six years. At the beginning of the study, the patients were on average 65 years old. Patients who regularly took statins showed a reduced risk of almost 40 percent for developing depression. These results indicate that statins could have a protective effect against depression on cardiovascular patients.

Further studies should now clarify whether this thesis can be confirmed, whether these positive effects also occur in other patient groups, and which mechanisms could be responsible for them.

Links

Opens external link in current windowDepartment of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Campus Benjamin Franklin

Link to paper: Opens external link in current windowhttp://www.psychiatrist.com/pastppp/oap.asp

Contact

Prof. Christian Otte
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
Campus Benjamin Franklin
t: + 49 30 8445 8779



Back to Overview

Press release

01.03.2012

Cause of a Particular Malformation of the Skeleton Clarified

Back to Overview

You are here:

Missing Gene Causes the Development of TAR Syndrome

Scientists at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin in collaboration with the Sanger Institute in Cambridge and other cooperation partners in Belgium, the Netherlands and France, were able to identify a genetic defect that is responsible for the development of TAR Syndrome, a congenital malformation of the skeleton and blood. Patients with TAR Syndrome are typically born without radius bones in the forearms; those affected have foreshortened upper arms. An additional characteristic is a blood platelet deficiency. Using modern methods of gene analysis, the team was able to show that TAR Syndrome develops because of a very low concentration of a particular protein. The results of the study have been published in the scientific journal 'Nature Genetics'*.

Blood platelets are the smallest and second most common cells in blood. They play an important role in blood clotting by attaching to the tissue surrounding a damaged blood vessel, or rather sticking to each other, in order to close the injury. Additionally, they release clot-enhancing substances. Some children are born with a congenital low platelet count. The consequence is that, in most cases, the children are prone to increased bleeding that is difficult to stop. TAR Syndrome combines the platelet deficiency with a malformation of the skeleton. The genetic background of TAR Syndrome has occupied scientists for 50 years.

In 2007, the work group surrounding Dr. Harald Schulze from the Institute of Transfusion Medicine at Charité, together with the department run by Prof. Stefan Mundlos at the Institute for Medical Genetics and Human Genetics at Charité could prove that all patients with TAR Syndrome are missing a piece of DNA on the first chromosome. “However, a number of healthy parents also had this particularity, so we suspected a second genetic factor. This factor has now been identified in over 50 patients using modern “Next Generation Sequencing” methods and is located in a gene (RBM8A) from the same area that controls the production of a particular protein (Y14),” Schulze explains. Y14 is in turn responsible for the creation of blood platelets, however not for the generation of other blood cells.

Now, scientists can show that the combination of gene deletion on the first chromosome and a variant of the RBM8A gene in the same region results in the inadequate concentration of Y14 protein production in certain cells, which is ultimately the cause of TAR Syndrome development.

This breakthrough enables affected families to receive better genetic consultation. Beyond that, evidence of the mutation offers the possibility to further identify the molecular causes of the disease and to develop better therapeutic options in the future.

*Cornelius A. Albers et al.:Compound inheritance of a low-frequency regulatory SNP and a rare null mutation in exon-junction complex subunit RBM8A causes TAR syndrome. Nature Genetics 2012. Published online 26 February 2012; doi:10.1038/ng.1083

Contact

Dr. Harald Schulze
Institut für Transfusionsmedizin
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 566 164



Back to Overview

Press release

12.03.2012

Understanding Cellular Signal Processing

Back to Overview

You are here:

Charité Scientists Develop Novel Method

Eine simulierte Zelle baut einen Kontakt mit einer benachbarten Zelle auf.
Eine simulierte Zelle baut einen Kontakt mit einer benachbarten Zelle (nicht im Bild) auf. Die Simulation zeigt die dynamische Verteilung des den Zellkontakt vermittelnden Proteins E-cadherin auf der Zellmembran über 1h (blau: niedrige, rot: hohe Konzentration).

Scientists at the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) have developed a realistic model for explaining cellular signal processing. This new method will be applied to the systems biological analysis of how heart muscle cells function and to model particular data from tumor tissue from lung cancer patients. The results of the work are published in the current issue of the journal Nature Methods*.

Metabolic and regulatory cell paths are characterized by a large number of interacting components. The formulation and use of detailed mathematical descriptions of cellular processes may help understand these complex systems better and allow for predications about the complex behavior of biological systems. In their work, the scientists introduce a new type of method to model and simulate cellular signal processing. With the method described, it is possible for the first time to realistically connect dynamic biochemical and morphological changes to each other. This allows knowledge about biology derived from experiments, for example the interplay between individual molecules, to be realistically translated into computer models. “An additional advantage of our method is the user-friendliness of the software. It allows physicians and biologists with no knowledge of mathematical physics to develop or modify complex biological models,” explains Dr. Frederick Klauschen from the Charité Institute of Pathology.

With these models, experiments can be conducted on the computer enabling scientists to test conceptual models and hypotheses about the function of physiological and pathological processes. For example, one can simulate what happens to a cell’s modeled signal network when one changes (or mutates) a particular molecule.

Thus, the method can make a valuable contribution in the future to “personalized medicine” by integrating the results of molecular-pathological diagnostics into a systems biology approach enabling a better understanding of pathological changes.

*Angermann BR, Klauschen F, Garcia AD, Prustel T, Zhang F, Germain RN, Meier-Schellersheim M. Computational modeling of cellular signaling processes embedded into dynamic spatial contexts. Nat Methods. 2012 Jan 29;9(3):283-9. doi:10.1038/nmeth.1861. PubMed PMID: 22286385.

Links

Link to the article:
Opens external link in current windowhttp://www.nature.com/nmeth/journal/v9/n3/full/nmeth.1861.html

The article is featured on the Nature Methods cover page: Opens external link in current windowhttp://www.nature.com/nmeth/journal/v9/n3/covers/index.html

Contact

Dr. Frederick Klauschen
Institut für Pathologie
Campus Charité Mitte
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin   
t: +49 30 450 536 053



Back to Overview

Press release

20.03.2012

Charité Historian Receives ERC Advanced Grant

Back to Overview

You are here:

European Research Council Advances History of Medicine

Medical historian Prof. Volker Hess has been awarded the Advanced Investigator Grant of the European Research Council (ERC) endowed with approximately 2.5 million euro, as the third CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin scientist to have received this award. Prof. Hess, the director of the Institute for the History of Medicine, was distinguished for his research endeavor “Ways of Writing. How Physicians Know, 1550–1950”. This project examines the function and meaning of various forms of writing in the development of medical knowledge. In a threefold approach, the medical system of record keeping is analyzed—from the Early Modern up to the most recent past. Together with his colleague Dr. Andrew Mendelsohn from the Imperial College in London, Prof. Hess designed the study to be multiperspectival and transnational. In this way differences and similarities in medical documentation between Italy, Great Britain, France and Germany are visible.

Comprehensive analysis also incorporates other forms of reporting, documentation and logging that flow systematically into the note-taking system. This includes, for example, legal assessments, local administrative requirements, and not least hospital bureaucracy. But here as well, material and medial sources of medical knowledge emerge. “Our research endeavor addresses the question concerning the relationship between form and content of medical documentation. It is always about the transmission of medical knowledge,” emphasizes Prof. Hess. Support from the European Research Council enables a team of seven scientists to pursue the question of medical documentation in European cultural history. The European Research Council awards the ERC Advanced Investigator Grant to excellent and experienced scientists who are not only active in their field of research, but who are also already established. When assessing scientific achievement, focus is placed on the last ten years in particular, during which researchers should have delivered outstanding performance.

Links

Opens external link in current windowInstitute for the History of Medicine

Contact

Prof. Volker Hess
Direktor des Instituts für Geschichte der Medizin
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 529 031



Back to Overview

Press release

03.05.2012

Of Mice and Men

Back to Overview

You are here:

Characterization of a new autism gene

Malfunctioning single proteins can cause disruptions in neuronal junctions leading to autistic forms of behavior. A current study, published in the scientific journal Nature, comes to this conclusion after examining genetically altered mice. The study, in which scientists from CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin and the NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence contributed, thus supports the hypothesis that disruptions in neuronal junctions, i.e. synapses, could be the cause of the development of neuropsychiatric illnesses like autism. The international research team, that included scientists from Ulm University and the Institut Pasteur in Paris, ascribes a key role to the excitatory synapses. This finding could become an important step stone for future autism therapies.

Nerve cells communicate with each other via signal transmission to synaptic junctions. These junctions are stabilized through structural proteins, including the so-called ProSAP1/Shank2 protein. In order to understand the role that this protein has on synapses and ultimately in the development of autism, the researchers genetically modified mice and disabled the relevant protein. The choice of this protein was not arbitrary: In preparation for the current study, a number of the scientists involved found evidence that the mutation of this protein can lead to autism in humans. Various neuronal developmental disorders manifested through distinctive social and communicative behavioral features, as well as stereotyped behaviors are combined under the term of “autism.”

The absence of this structural protein in the mouse model also had visible implications: Animals with the mutated gene are hyperactive and demonstrate compulsive repetitions of particular features—like grooming, for example. In behavioral experiments, peculiarities in social and communicative interaction also become distinct. In the brains of the mice, researchers found noticeable mutations of synaptic junctions—specifically in excitatory synapses. When glutamate transmitters bind to glutamate receptors located at these junctions, the nerve cells become excitatory. If the mouse is lacking this structural protein, the transmitters increasingly find a related structural protein on the excitatory synapses, the ProSAP2/Shank3. This protein has also been implicated in the development of autism. At the same time, the composition of glutamate receptors mutates.

But what happens when this related structural protein in the mice is switched off? This is also examined in the study presented. The conclusion is that, in this case as well, mutations of the excitatory synapses occur. Obviously, both structural molecules alternate in fulfilling regular functions. “The study illustrates the significant role glutamatergic systems play in autism and thus contributes to understanding better synaptic changes in autism,” reports Stephanie Wegener, one of the participating scientists at Charité Berlin.  The study is therefore an important part of the essential scientific foundation needed to develop possible therapies for autism.

*Autistic-like behaviours and hyperactivity in mice lacking ProSAP1/Shank2. Michael J. Schmeisser*, Elodie Ey*, Stephanie Wegener* et al., Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature11015

Links

www.neurocure.de

Contact

Prof. Dietmar Schmitz
Sprecher Exzellenzcluster NeuroCure
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin   
t: +49 30 450 539 054

Prof. Tobias M. Böckers
Universität Ulm
t: +49 731 500 23220



Back to Overview

Press release

14.05.2012

How ribosomes override their blockades

Back to Overview

You are here:

Scientists at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin have succeeded for the first time to document one of the key steps during the restoration process that rescues blocked bacterial ribosomes. The exact findings about the composition and the way a ribosome works—one of the main targets for antibacterial drugs—are of great meaning in the continued research on antibiotics. The study is published in the current issue of the scientific journal Nature*.

Ribosomes are “protein factories” in the cells of all living things. They produce proteins based on existing genetic codes stored on special nucleic acid molecules. These molecules, also called messenger RNA (mRNA) due to the genetic information encoded on them, are read by ribosomes in a stepwise manner. Defined start and stop signals on the mRNA direct this process. If a stop signal is missing, protein formation cannot be completed and the ribosome’s mode of operation is blocked.

Until now, it was not understood in all details how a ribosome can overcome such a blockade. At the center of this repair process, called Trans-Translation, is an additional nucleic acid molecule (tmRNA) that unites characteristics of mRNA and another nucleic acid molecule, the transferRNA (tRNA). The tRNA transfers the correct amino acids to the respective gene sequence on the mRNA during protein biosynthesis. The tmRNA molecule is thus able to smuggle in the missing stop signal and lift the blockade. It was never exactly clear how this large tmRNA molecule moves through the ribosome and smuggles its information into the ribosome’s mRNA channel.

This process could now be documented for the first time using cryo-electron microscopy. This method offers the opportunity to examine the spatial and chronological interaction between individual components of macromolecules. This is done by flash-freezing ribosomes in liquid ethane at -192° Celsius and several hundred-thousand two-dimensional images are projected back into a three-dimensional reconstruction. “With the help of cryo-electron microscopy a unique glimpse of a central key step of the interaction between ribosome, tmRNA, a special protein (SmbP) and the elongation factor G could be attained,” explained David Ramrath, doctoral candidate at the Institute for Medical Physics and Biophysics at Charité and primary author of the study.

The mRNA channel, in which the tmRNA must smuggle the missing information, goes straight through the ribosome’s middle, between the so-called head and body domains of the small ribosomal subunit. Structural analysis showed that cooperation between ribosome and tmRNA in the event of necessary repair is only possible through a change in conformation, that is a short-term and unexpectedly large swivel movement of the ribosome’s head domain.

The complex of tmRNA–SmpB and EF-G on translocating ribosomes. David J. F. Ramrath, Hiroshi Yamamoto, Kristian Rother, Daniela Wittek, Markus Pech, Thorsten Mielke, Justus Loerke, Patrick Scheerer, Pavel Ivanov, Yoshika Teraoka, Olga Shpanchenko, Knud H. Nierhaus & Christian M. T. Spahn. Nature (2012), DOI:10.1038/nature11006

Contact

Prof. Christian Spahn oder David Ramrath
Institut für Medizinische Physik und Biophysik
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin   
t: +49 30 450 524131
E-Mail:



Back to Overview

Press release

15.05.2012

Poststroke depression

Back to Overview

You are here:

Administration of antidepressants may afford protection against delayed death of nerve cells

Several weeks after mild brain ischemia, mice display a depressive-like syndrome characterized by increased anxiety, inactivity and “cheerlessness”. These symptoms of depression following a stroke are associated with the delayed loss of nerve cells in the brain’s reward regions. This is the major finding of a study published in the current issue of Biological Psychiatry.

Scientists at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin collaborating with researchers from Bochum, Magdeburg and Boston were able to show that delayed treatment of laboratory mice with cipramil, an antidepressant of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) family, not only prevented the development of depression, but also attenuated the subacute degeneration of nerve cells in the brain’s reward system after stroke. At the same time, the area in the brain directly affected by the stroke turned out to be smaller in those mice which had received the antidepressant. “These results indicate that antidepressants from the SSRI group protect nerve cells. This effect can also be harnessed even when medication is started days after the stroke,” explains psychiatrist Prof. Golo Kronenberg, who works on the subject of “Depression after Stroke” at the Center for Stroke Research Berlin (CSB) at Charité.

Poststroke depression is of great clinical relevance. Not only do symptoms of depression occur frequently after stroke, they also negatively impact stroke outcome with increased morbidity and mortality and worse functional outcome. The neurobiological mechanisms underlying the development of depression after a stroke have hardly been examined on the molecular or cellular levels. Conversely, the effects of commonly prescribed antidepressants on stroke outcome have only sparsely been investigated.

“These results may be of considerable clinical significance because until now it was assumed that the window for effective treatment options after a stroke is limited to a few hours. However, this study shows that a treatment even when started several days after the stroke may still prove effective,” says Prof. Matthias Endres, the Director of the Department of Neurology at Charité.

Based on these experimental findings, the phenomenon of delayed nerve cell loss will also be studied in human stroke patients using neuroimaging. Furthermore, within the framework of the Clinic for Affective Disorders that is currently being set up at the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC) in Berlin-Buch, special consultation hours for patients suffering from poststroke depression will be scheduled.

Exofocal Dopaminergic Degeneration as Antidepressant Target in Mouse Model of Poststroke Depression. Kronenberg G, Balkaya M, Prinz V, Gertz K, Ji S, Kirste I, Heuser I, Kampmann B, Hellmann-Regen J, Gass P, Sohr R, Hellweg R, Waeber C, Juckel G, Hörtnagl H, Stumm R, Endres M. Biol Psychiatry (2012). doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.02.026

Contact

Prof. Golo Kronenberg

Klinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie

CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin                 

t: +49 30 450 560 317



Back to Overview

Press release

29.05.2012

Charité is the “Best Clinic in Germany”

Back to Overview

You are here:

University clinic in Berlin reaches first place in Focus ranking

Patients at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin receive first-class medical care. A broad ranking of clinics by Focus magazine presented in the current issue came to this conclusion. With significant distance between Charité and the lower ranked clinics, Charité was named the best of 1,500 hospitals throughout Germany.

Approximately 18,000 physicians were polled by Focus magazine about their clinic recommendations, and quality reports of the clinics were also evaluated. Furthermore, technical equipment in the hospitals, the treatments available and information about safety, and patient and employee satisfaction were collected.

The medical director at Charité, Prof. Ulrich Frei, evaluated the success first and foremost as the credit of the close to 13,000 people who work at Charité delivering extraordinary work everyday. However, in his opinion, structural advantages at Charité also carried weight: “Charité’s size is a clear plus and the base of success. It enables specialization and the formation of interdepartmental centers in which individuals can perfect their specific tasks in a team.” The results are motivation to reaffirm and expand what has been achieved.

Prof. Karl Max Einhäupl, chairman of the board at Charité greeted the excellent rating and sees (besides the high profile of the traditional Charité name) an additional important factor: “Charité is not your typical hospital. Clinic and research are integrated. Intelligent research is inspired by clinical observation and innovative research findings find their way more quickly into therapy concepts - to the benefit of our patients.” For Einhäupl, the results presented are an encouraging impulse for the scientific and political advancement of new forms of cooperation to strengthen patient-oriented research.

Links

Opens external link in current windowFacts and figures about Charité

Opens external link in current windowTo the Focus magazine clinic ranking

Contact

No results

Back to Overview

Press release

13.06.2012

Gentle method of diagnosing heart disease

Back to Overview

You are here:

Study: Computer tomography is extremely dependable

CT-Aufnahme der linken Herzkammer
Dreidimensionale Darstellung der Funktionsanalyse der linken Herzkammer mit der CT (blau eingefärbt) sowohl in der maximalen Füllungsphase (links) als auch der maximalen Auswurfphase des Herzens (rechts) bei einem Patienten mit normaler Funktion.

Computer tomographic images deliver dependable data to analyze the heart’s global pump function. This was shown in a study conducted by radiologists and cardiologists at Charité – Universitätsmedizin in cooperation with the Jena University Hospital. The research results are published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology*.

In the study, radiologist Privatdozent Dr. Marc Dewey and his work group included every image-producing method available to examine heart function: magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as a reference standard; 2-D and 3-D echocardiography; coronary catheterization; and computer tomography (CT). With CT, a three-dimensional image was put together using non-invasive x-rays taken from a number of perspectives. The CT resulted in the most dependable data in estimating global pump functions. To detect regional apraxia, computer tomography was just as effective as the other methods in comparison to the MRI.

Furthermore, modern computer tomography enables significantly improved visualization of constricted coronary blood vessels with reduced radiation exposure. “The possibility to evaluate the heart comprehensively and dependably with the CT holds enormous potential,” emphasizes Johannes Greupner from the Institute of Radiology at the Charité Campus Mitte. In cases of specific pain in the chest area, computer tomography can thus become an appropriate non-invasive image-producing procedure. In contrast to the MRI, the CT can also be used on patients with pacemakers without problem.

* Greupner J, Zimmermann E, Grohmann A, Dübel HP, Althoff T, Borges AC, Rutsch W, Schlattmann P, Hamm B, Dewey M.: Head-to-Head Comparison of Left Ventricular Function Assessment with 64-Row Computed Tomography, Biplane Left Cineventriculography, and Both Two- and Three-Dimensional Transthoracic Echocardiography: Comparison with Magnetic Resonance Imaging as the Reference Standard. In: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Volume 59, Issue 21, 22 May 2012, 1897-1907, DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2012.01.046

Downloads

Links

Click Opens external link in current windowhere to read the article in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterInstitut für Radiologie

Contact

Privatdozent Dr. Marc Dewey
Institut für Radiologie
Campus Charité Mitte
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 527 353



Back to Overview

Press release

15.06.2012

Charité expands top position in medical research

Back to Overview

You are here:

The Excellence Initiative acquires another graduate school from the medical university in Berlin

The results of the second phase of the federal and state Excellence Initiative have once again granted CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin another impressive achievement. In competition with very strong applicants, Charité has been successful as the lead institution of one cluster, as well as two schools. In addition to confirming the already established Cluster of Excellence “NeuroCure” and the graduate school “Berlin Brandenburg School for Regenerative Therapies”, the “Berlin School of Integrative Oncology” has made the jump into the exclusive circle of top proposals.

The decision – made by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation, DFG) and the German Council of Science and Humanities with respective federal and state ministers – ensures project-specific expansion in three important topics of university research through 2017. The keys to success were innovative ideas and the hard work of many scientists at Charité and its cooperation partners at university and non-university research institutions. “Without the outstanding cooperation of the participating scientists, this success would never have been possible. Networking is the strength of our location,” emphasizes Prof. Annette Grüters-Kieslich, Dean of the Charité.

The graduate school “Berlin School of Integrative Oncology” (BSIO) will develop new strategies in the fight against cancer. Cancer presents a meaningful medical and social challenge affecting approximately 1.45 million people and 450,000 new diagnoses per year. “We are trying to decode a tumor’s individual, molecular blueprint and develop a custom-tailored therapeutic concept for patients,” says Prof. Clemens Schmitt, director of the Molecular Cancer Research Center at Charité and spokesman of BSIO. The support within the Excellence Initiative framework enables researchers at Charité, the Freie Universität Berlin (FU), the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU) and in close cooperation with five non-university partner institutions, to educate prospective molecular oncologists and physicians in research, diagnosis and treatment of this illness.

With the continuation of the Excellence Cluster “NeuroCure” (a cooperation between CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin and the parent universities, the HU and the FU, as well as three non-university research institutes) the intensely driven expansion over the last few years of Berlin as a place of neurosciences will continue sustainably. The stated goal of NeuroCure is to understand disease mechanisms better and thereby develop effective therapies for neurological illnesses like strokes, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy, but also for psychiatric illnesses like, for example, Alzheimer's, autism, depression and schizophrenia. “Over the last years, we have been able to develop Berlin as a place of neuroscientific research through comprehensive international appointments. We will continue on this path and strengthen the cooperative relationships even more with the additional funds,” as Dietmar Schmitz, spokesman and initiator of the Excellence Cluster, happily explains.

Since 2007 the graduate school “Berlin-Brandenburg School for Regenerative Therapies” (BSRT) has also offered post-doctoral students from the fields of medicine, natural-, material- and engineering sciences the opportunity to conduct research on how tissue and organs affected by the aging process, illness, trauma or congenital anomalies, regenerate and can be healed. By closely interlocking basic research and clinical application, research findings can be implemented quickly as new therapies. With today’s decision to extend support of the BSRT, the graduate school will expand its program even further. Innovative educational concepts developed in the “Bio Thinking” program at the graduate school will be implemented. Participants include the FU, HU, Technical University (TU) as well as the Max Planck, Helmholtz, Fraunhofer, Leibniz and Hasso Plattner Institutes.

“Charité can be proud of its scientists. It is thanks to their ideas and indefatigable dedication that Charité connects to its tradition as a leading institution of medical research in Germany to develop into a top center of life sciences,” said Prof. Karl Max Einhäupl, Chairman of Charité. He adds: “This recognition will motivate us even more to bring Berlin to international standing as a place of research, and as a result, the health industry in the Berlin-Brandenburg region as well.”

The board at Charité also welcomes the jury’s decision to support the Freie Universität’s strategy for the future and the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. “By establishing the FU Berlin’s Dahlem research campus and the Integrative Research Institute of Life Sciences (IRI) at the HU Berlin, we can further strengthen and expand the successful cooperation and good work that Charité conducts with its parent universities,” explained Prof. Grüters-Kieslich. At the center of the HU Berlin’s strategy is a comprehensive program for the development of three interdisciplinary research platforms, in addition to the new Integrative Research Institute for Life Sciences – a cooperation between the Humboldt-Universität, Max Delbrück Center and Charité. “The goal of this research institute is to enable integrative approaches from the molecular to the systematic biological level, and from biological fundamentals through to patient-oriented clinical research via content and methodological synergies,” adds Prof. Grüters-Kieslich.

Within the framework of the renewed support of the FU’s strategy for the future, Charité will participate substantially on developing a “Life Sciences and Biomedicine” focus area at the Dahlem research campus. 

Contact

Berlin School of Integrative Oncology“ (BSIO)
Prof. Clemens Schmitt (Spokesman)
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
MKFZ – Molekulares Krebsforschungszentrum
t: +49 30 450 553 896

NeuroCure
Prof. Dietmar Schmitz (Spokesman)
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin,
t: +49 30 450 539 054

Berlin-Brandenburg School for Regenerative Therapies (BSRT)
Prof. Georg N. Duda (Spokesman)
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
Julius-Wolff-Institut
t: +49 30 450 559 079



Back to Overview

Press release

18.06.2012

New Approach to Diagnosing and Treating Dementia

Back to Overview

You are here:

Some dementia patients show symptoms of a malfunctioning immune system and can receive appropriate treatment

Scientists at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin have succeeded in recommending a new type of therapeutic approach to dementia. The study published in the journal Neurology* shows that immune reactions against the body’s own nerve cells can be the cause of advanced dementia and an appropriate immune suppressive therapy can develop with significant effectiveness.

Dementia burdens society with high costs, and those affected by it and their family members carry a tremendous psychosocial burden. Dementia is increasingly perceived as a sword of Damocles over an aging society due to its often unclear origin, difficult prevention and unsatisfactory therapies.

Together with a workgroup and cooperation partners in Germany and the US, Dr. Harald Prüß, physician at the Klinik für Neurologie of the Charité, was able to prove that dementia is also caused by the immune system. As an accessory symptom of an autoimmune disease, dementia can thus be treated. This approach to diagnostic criteria has been overlooked until now. It was proven that a number of patients in this study who suffered from advanced memory loss had developed an immune defense response with antibodies against an ion channel in the brain, a so-called NMDA-type glutamate channel. Particular proteins in the nerve cell membrane are reduced leading to the characteristic disruption in nerve function and synapsis loss. Those affected exhibit memory problems and abnormalities in mood and emotion. Eliminating these antibodies through hemodialysis improved the symptoms in cerebral metabolism in the hippocampus region – a part of the brain that is relevant for memory performance and particularly affected by dementia.

“Through the study results, a completely new approach to diagnosing dementia can possibly result. At the moment we are working on a follow-up study with larger test groups in order to verify our approach even further,” explains Harald Prüß. He adds: “The potential promise of this new approach is that completely new perspectives could result for an entire group of people suffering from dementia for whom no specific therapeutic option exists.” 

* Prüss H, Höltje M, Maier N, Gomez A, Buchert R, Harms L, Ahnert-Hilger G, Schmitz D, Terborg C, Kopp U, Klingbeil C, Probst C, Kohler S, Schwab JM, Stoecker W, Dalmau J, Wandinger KP: IgA NMDA receptor antibodies are markers of synaptic immunity in slow cognitive impairment. Neurology. 2012 May 29;78(22):1743-53.

Contact

Privatdozent Dr. Harald Prüß
Klinik für Neurologie
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 2311 2073



Back to Overview

Press release

18.06.2012

Information flow in the brain is not a “one-way street”

Back to Overview

You are here:

Berlin neuroscientists discover a new principle of information flow in nerve cells

A longstanding question in brain research is how information is processed in the brain. Neuroscientists at the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin, Cluster of Excellence NeuroCure and University of Newcastle have made a contribution towards answering this question. In a new study, they have shown that signals are generated not only in the cell body of nerve cells, but also in their output extension, the axon. A specific filter cell regulates signal propagation. These findings have now been published in the journal Science*.

Until now it has been assumed that information flow in nerve cells proceeds along a “one-way street”. Electrical impulses are initiated at the cell body and propagate along the axon to the next neuron, where they are received by extensions, the dendrites, acting as antennae. However, the team around Charité researchers Tengis Gloveli and Tamar Dugladze has demonstrated that this model needs to be revised. They discovered that signals can also be initiated in axons, i.e. outside the cell body. This happens during highly synchronous neuronal activity as, for example, in a state of heightened attention. Moreover, these axonally generated signals flow bidirectionally and represent a new principle of information processing: on the one hand, impulses propagate from their origin towards other nerve cells; on the other hand, the signals also backpropagate towards the cell body, i.e. in the “wrong direction” down the one-way street. A potential problem is that backpropagating signals could lead to excessive cell activation.

However, the researchers found that backpropagating signals do not reach the cell body under normal conditions. The reason for this, the scientists discovered, is a natural filter that prevents these signals from passing. “Axo-axonic cells, an inhibitory cell type, regulate signal propagation and thus occupy an outstanding strategic position,” explains Tamar Dugladze. Through the filter function, these cells allow signals initiated at the cell body to pass, but suppress backpropagating impulses generated in the axon. By this means, excessive activation of the cell body is prevented. In experiments, the scientists could show that when this filter function is deactivated, backpropagating signals are allowed to pass, resulting in higher cell activation.

These filter cells can become damaged in various neurological diseases. The consequent misregulation of signal flow, in turn, has fatal effects on information processing in the brain. "Results of this study shed new light on the central question of how signals are processed in the brain. In addition, these findings could help us better understand the development and progress of neuronal diseases such as epilepsy, which involves excessive hypersynchronous activity of large sets of neurons. This knowledge could open up new therapeutic approaches", says Tengis Gloveli. The neuroscientists will therefore focus their future research on both basic understanding of the mechanisms of signal flow in the nervous system, and the relevance of these mechanisms in the genesis of epilepsy.

* T. Dugladze, D. Schmitz, M.A. Whittington, I. Vida, T. Gloveli: Segregation of axonal and somatic activity during fast network oscillations. Science 336, 6087 (2012).

Links

http://www.neurocure.de

Contact

Prof. Tengis Gloveli
Institut für Neurophysiologie
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 528 214



Back to Overview

Press release

18.07.2012

Skin Has an Internal Clock

Back to Overview

You are here:

Regeneration and repair are dependent on time of day

A research team at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin together with scientists at a company in Hamburg has now discovered that human skin has an internal clock responsible for the time-based steering of its repair and regeneration, among other things. The team published its first results from their basic research in the current issue of Proceedings of the Academy of Science (PNAS)*.

Our skin is one of the body’s essential organs and perhaps the most versatile: Besides representative, communicative and sensory functions, it serves as our body’s boundary to the environment, forms an active and passive barrier against germs and helps keeping conditions constant for other important systems of the body, even though environmental conditions can change drastically. Frost, heat, sunlight and moisture — a variety of challenges for our skin — have different effects depending on the time of day.

Prof. Achim Kramer’s research team from the field of chronological biology at Charité and Dr. Thomas Blatt from the Skin Research Center in Hamburg have now found out that skin adapts to these time-dependent conditions.

The researchers took cell samples (keratinocytes) from the uppermost layer of skin from young, healthy test persons at various times of the day. Analysis of numerous genes in the keratinocytes showed that important factors for the regeneration and repair of skin cells are regulated by a biological clock. One of these factors, the molecule called the Krüppel-like-factor (Klf9) slows down cell division in the keratinocytes: When the researchers reduced the activity of this factor, they observed faster growth in the skin cell cultures. On the other hand, increased activity of Klf9 was connected with slower cell division. At the same time, it was shown that the stress hormone cortisol also controls the activity of Klf9 and can thus deploy a medical effect on common skin diseases like psoriasis.

The job of the biological clock is to control the exact timing of various processes like cell division, cell differentiation and DNA repair in skin. Prof. Kramer is already looking to the future: “If we understand these processes better, we could target the use of medication to the time of day in which they work best and have the fewest side effects.”

* Florian Spörl, Thomas Blatt, Achim Kramer et al.: Krüppel-like factor 9 is a circadian transcription factor in human epidermis that controls proliferation of keratinocytes. In: Proceedings of the Academy of Science (PNAS), Jul 3; 109(27):10903-8. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1118641109.

Links

Opens external link in current windowArticle in Proceedings of the Academy of Science

Contact

Prof. Achim Kramer
Institut für Medizinische Immunologie
Campus Charité Mitte
t: + 49 30 450 524 263



Back to Overview

Press release

31.07.2012

A Good Network – Important for Brain Activity

Back to Overview

You are here:

Berlin researchers discover switchboard that connects nerve cells

Speech, sensory perception, thought formation, decision-making processes and movement are complex tasks that the brain only masters when individual nerve cells (neurons) are well connected. Berlin neuroscientists have now discovered a molecular switch that regulates this networking of nerve cells. The scientists from CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin, the NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) have published their work in the journal Genes and Development.

The dendritic tree, a highly branched structure of neurons, plays an important role in these brain functions. The dendrites act like antennae to receive signals from other cells and send them on to the nerve cell body. Congenital neurological conditions, like mental retardation, are often associated with errors in dendritic tree development.

Marta Rosário’s research team, in cooperation with Victor Tarabykin from Charité and Walter Birchmeier from MDC, has now discovered how this branching process is controlled during development. In living mice, it could be shown that the NOMA-GAP protein serves as a switch in this process. Maturing neurons produce this switch protein, which then starts a chain of signals in cells that leads to dendritic branching. A central element of this signal chain is a protein, called Cdc42. It plays an important role in the first developmental stages of neurons, but inhibits the branching of the dendritic tree in later developmental stages. When NOMA-GAP becomes active, it turns off Cdc42 allowing maturing neurons to form complex dendritic trees. The correct deployment of the switch protein and control of the signal chain regulated by Cdc42 are thus essential for the proper dendritic branching of neurons and thus for the development of the neocortex (the cerebral cortex) that steers sensory perception, memory, speech and movement, among other functions.

“Errors in this signal cascade lead to an incompletely developed dendritic tree. The result is a risk of mental limitations as signals in the brain cannot be adequately processed,” explains Marta Rosário. “For us the study forms an important foundation for researching various conditions, like mental retardation, schizophrenia or depression, that will hopefully point out new therapeutic avenues.”

Rosário M, Schuster S, Jüttner R, Parthasarathy S, Tarabykin V, Birchmeier W. Neocortical dendritic complexity is controlled during development by NOMA-GAP-dependent inhibition of Cdc42 and activation of cofilin. Genes Dev. 2012 Jul 18. doi: 10.1101/gad.191593.112


NeuroCure is a Cluster of Excellence at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin funded by the federal and state government within the framework of the Excellence Initiative. The focus of the interdisciplinary research network is to translate basic neuroscientific research findings into clinical application. Understanding the mechanisms of disease contributes to developing effective therapies for neurological illnesses like stroke, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy but also for psychiatric disorders such as Alzheimer´s and autism. In addition to Charité, the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin, Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC), Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology (FMP), and Deutsche Rheuma-Forschungszentrum Berlin (DRFZ) are all NeuroCure partners.

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen Fensterwww.neurocure.de

Contact

Dr. Marta Rosario
Institut für Zell- und Neurobiologie
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: + 49 30 450 528 333



Back to Overview

Press release

14.08.2012

A Pacemaker for Snoring

Back to Overview

You are here:

Implantation successful

At CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin a tongue pacemaker was implanted that prevents pauses in breathing during sleep and helps against snoring. Physicians at the Department of Otolaryngology used the device for a patient who suffers from obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. In this, at times life-threatening illness, pauses in breathing can occur when the upper throat muscles are excessively relaxed during sleep. As a result, parts of the respiratory tract narrow and the person has difficulty breathing. The typical snoring noises occur when the affected person tries with great effort to get air through the blocked airways.

The neurostimulator is somewhat smaller than a box of matches and is implanted, like a heart pacemaker, underneath the collarbone. From there, an ultrathin cable leads to the bottom edge of the ribcage where diaphragm movement is measured and individual breathing frequency is monitored. When the patient inhales and his diaphragm contracts, the pacemaker sends a weak electrical impulse via a second cable to the hypoglossal nerve. This nerve is located directly under the tongue and is responsible for contraction of the tongue muscle. When it is stimulated, the tongue does not relax and block the airway, but stays in the sleeping person’s uppermost part of the pharynx, i.e. in his mouth. Thus life-threatening pauses in breathing are prevented.

Somnologist and sleep researcher Dr. Alexander Blau emphasizes that the neurostimulator is a significant step in treating sleep apnea. Compared to previous therapies using special breathing masks, the patients’ nocturnal movements are no longer restricted. “The patient has regained a piece of his quality of life. Before he goes to bed, he can simply turn on the device with a small remote control.” Dr. Blau is confident that further implantations will be just as successful.

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterInterdisziplinäres Schlafmedizinisches Zentrum

Contact

Prof. Thomas Penzel
Medizinische Klinik mit Schwerpunkt Kardiologie und Angiologie
Campus Charité Mitte
t: +49 30 450 513 013



Back to Overview

Press release

21.08.2012

Musical Memory Remains Intact

Back to Overview

You are here:

Scientists at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin could show in a study that musical memory in the brain seems to be organized independently of other types of memory. This finding could be of possible use in rehabilitating patients with memory disorders. The study is published in "Current Biology"*.

Together with his team, Prof. Christoph Ploner, director of the Department of Neurology at the Virchow campus, examined a professional cellist who suffered from encephalitis caused by a herpes virus. As a result of the inflammation, the patient developed serious disturbances in memory. Both his memory for the past (retrograde amnesia), as well as the acquisition of new information (anterograde amnesia) were affected. Whereas the patient was unable to recount any events from his private or professional life, or remember any of his friends or relatives, he retained a completely intact musical memory. Furthermore, he was still able to sight-read and play the cello.
 
For the systematic examination of his musical memory, Dr. Carsten Finke, Nazli Esfahani and Prof. Christoph Ploner developed various tests that take the beginning of his amnesia into account. In comparison to amateur musicians and professional musicians from the Berlin Philharmonic, the patient showed a normal musical memory in all tests. He not only remembered music pieces from the past, but was also able to retain music he had never heard before. “The findings show that musical memory is organized at least partially independent of the hippocampus, a brain structure that is central to memory formation,” says Carsten Finke, the primary author of the study. “It is possible that the enormous significance of music throughout all times and in all cultures contributed to the development of an independent memory for music.”

Carsten Finke and his colleagues hope that the intact musical memory in patients with amnesia can be used to stimulate other memory content. In this way, perhaps a particular melody can be connected to a person or an everyday task, for example taking medicine.

Finke C, Esfahani NE, Ploner CJ. Preservation of musical memory in an amnesic professional cellist. Curr Biol. 2012 Aug 7;22(15):R591-2. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2012.05.041.

Contact

Dr. Carsten Finke
Klinik für Neurologie
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t:  +49 30 450 560 216



Back to Overview

Press release

03.09.2012

Molecular Signature of Hantavirus Infection in Humans Decoded

Back to Overview

You are here:

Scientists at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin and Labor Berlin GmbH have succeeded in clarifying the molecular signature of the viruses that lead to an increasing size and number of hantavirus outbreaks in Germany. These illnesses affect foremost the kidneys and lungs. Using a newly created register, the study results now enable comparison of the genetic information of a particular viral strain detected in a patient with the hantaviruses in circulation in Germany. “We can now precisely allocate a patient’s viral strain where the infection occurred in a particular region at risk in Germany,” explains virologist Prof. Detlev Krüger, director of the Charité Institute for Medical Virology. Study results are published in the September issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases*.

Hantaviruses are harbored by particular types of mice and transmitted to humans through their excretions and excrement. Infection in humans causes fever, pain—and in serious cases—kidney failure. Whereas this infection was almost unknown in Germany a few years ago, in the meantime the hantavirus belongs to one of the five most frequently occurring viral illnesses subject to registration. To date, the Robert Koch Institute has already registered 2,261 cases of the virus this year so that 2012 already marks a “hantavirus record year.” This demands new research efforts into the illness, its spread and risk of infection. Through the study results, particular regions where the virus breaks out and the risk of human infection within Germany can be increasingly better defined and understood.

The Berlin researchers’ work was made possible by a tight network of physicians and zoologists throughout Germany, as well as by scientists from the Friedrich Loeffler Institute in Greifswald.

*Ettinger J, Hofmann J, Enders M, Tewald F, Oehme RM, Rosenfeld UM, Ali HS, Schlegel M, Essbauer S, Osterberg A, Jacob J, Reil D, Klempa B, Ulrich RG, Kruger DH. Multiple synchronous outbreaks of puumala virus, Germany, 2010. Emerg Infect Dis. 2012 Sep;18(9):1461-4. doi: 10.3201/eid1809.111447.

Contact

Prof. Detlev H. Krüger
Institut für Medizinische Virologie
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 525 092



Back to Overview

Press release

19.09.2012

New Study on the Relapse Risk in Alcoholics

Back to Overview

You are here:

Scientists at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin have succeeded in coming closer to determining the risk of relapse in detoxified alcohol-dependent patients. Using an imaging process (magnetic resonance tomography) it was shown that particular regions in the brain demonstrate structural as well as functional abnormalities in relapsed alcohol-dependent patients. Study findings are published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.

In the study conducted under the direction of Prof. Andreas Heinz, director of the Charité Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, scientists examined a group of 46 detoxified alcohol-dependent patients, in addition to a large control group. Structural imaging showed anatomical properties of brain substance, and the examination of functional signals in the brain were measured in reaction to alcohol-associated stimuli. After three months, patients were reexamined for eventual relapses; 30 study participants relapsed and 16 continued to be abstinent.

It was proven that relapse patients had increased loss of grey matter in particular regions of the forebrain. This section of the brain is known to be associated primarily with behavioral regulation and emotional control. Furthermore, measurement of functional brain responses in reaction to alcohol-associated stimuli showed that different brain regions were activated in relapsed patients than in patients who remained abstinent. These measurements show that sections of the brain in relapse patients were active that are associated primarily with directing attention to certain stimuli. In contrast, the abstinent patients demonstrated an activation of brain areas that are (among other functions) associated with processing of stimuli inducing aversion (aversive stimuli) or that are particularly important (salient stimuli). “This characteristic in patients who remained abstinent possibly acts as a warning signal and prevents potential relapse when confronted with alcohol,” said Anne Beck, primary author of the study. Future studies could examine these aspects in greater depth and take eventual factors of alcohol dependency into consideration, like for example, genetic mechanisms. Thus people with a particularly high risk of relapse could be identified and systematically supported with therapy.

Beck A, Wüstenberg T, Genauck A, Wrase J, Schlagenhauf F, Smolka MN, Mann K, Heinz A. Effect of brain structure, brain function, and brain connectivity on relapse in alcohol-dependent patients. Arch Gen Psychiatry. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.2026

Contact

Dr. Anne Beck
Klinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t +49 30 450 517 027



Back to Overview

Press release

25.09.2012

Tumor Cell Growth Does Not Follow A Master Plan

Back to Overview

You are here:

Self-regulating networks dictate the genetic program of tumor cells

Scientists at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin could explain a yet unknown regulatory network that controls the growth of tumor cells. Understanding such networks is an important task in molecular tumor biology in order to decode the relationships between the determinants defining which molecules are produced and in what quantities, in both normal and tumor cells. The study is published in the journal Molecular Systems Biology*.

The growth of a tumor and its reaction to specifically targeted therapy is dictated by changes in its genetic material (mutations) encoding special signal molecules. These molecules activate the genetic program of tumor cells via branched signalingpathways and influence all processes needed for cell division, the mobility of cells and metastasis. Significant steering elements of these tumor-specific programs are called transcription factors. These are molecules that selectively control the transcription of the cell’s genetic information (DNA) into messenger RNA and enable production of proteins . Altogether a complex network of mutually regulating transcription factors is activated.

Whereas the signal network in human tumors has already been characterized very well, it is hardly understood how transcription factors cooperate and regulate each other. In order to explain this transcription factor network, the scientists used a systems biology approach. A complex experimental data set—in which the transcription factors in tumor cells were systematically disrupted—was analyzed with the help of mathematical modeling. As a result, interactions within the network could be reconstructed and the network controlling tumor growth clarified.

“Contrary to a current assumption, the results show that no superordinate transcription factor exists that controls the activity of other factors as a master regulator,” explains Prof. Reinhold Schäfer, head of the Laboratory for Molecular Tumor Pathology and deputy director of the Charité Comprehensive Cancer Center. Instead, two hierarchical groups of interacting factors exist. Each of them activates gene sets needed for growth and cancer-specific properties of the cells. The results indicate that new therapeutic approaches against tumors must target multiple rather than singular factors and consider the network structures..

*Stelniec-Klotz I, Legewie S, Tchernitsa O, Witzel F, Klinger B, Sers C, Herzel H, Blüthgen N, Schäfer R. Reverse engineering a hierarchical regulatory network downstream of oncogenic KRAS. Mol Syst Biol. 2012 Jul 31;8:601. doi: 10.1038/msb.2012.32.

Contact

Prof. Reinhold Schäfer
Institut für Pathologie
Stellvertretender Direktor Charité Comprehensive Cancer Center
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 536 072



Back to Overview

Press release

26.09.2012

Using Antibodies against Immune Deficiency

Back to Overview

You are here:

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis benefit from innovative biotechnology

Early, intensive therapy with a biotechnologically produced medication can provide significantly faster pain relief for patients with rheumatic joint inflammation. Damage to joints can also be reduced when the medication is applied right at the beginning of the illness. A nationwide study sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and conducted by Prof. Gerd-Rüdiger Burmester, director of the Medical Department, Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin, came to this conclusion. Findings are published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases*.

In the study, the standard preparation of methotrexate was tested in comparison with a combined therapy of methotrexate and the biological agent (or biologic) adalimumab in treating rheumatoid arthritis. Biologics are a particular group of medication produced from living cells using methods of molecular biology. The medication exclusively targets particular messenger substances in the immune system. It clings to the body’s inflammatory substances and renders them harmless. Pain, swelling and the progress of inflammation are thus prevented.

The medication tested by Prof. Burmester’s work group is called adalimumab and was approved ten years ago. It is one of the most frequently prescribed biologics worldwide. It is prescribed when standard therapies are inadequate or when side effects develop. The Charité study examined how the medication affects patients with rheumatoid joint inflammation when the therapy is started immediately following diagnosis and not only when other therapies do not take effect. Study participants had rheumatoid arthritis in the early stages, however, were considerably limited in their daily activities as a result of the symptoms. Half of the patients were given the combination therapy for six months and the other half serving as the comparison group was given the standard medication and a placebo. All test participants were then given methotrexate for another six months. Though both groups had comparable symptoms at the end of study, the group that was given the biologic experienced significantly faster pain relief. Furthermore, x-rays showed less bone damage in those patients compared to the placebo group. Prof. Burmester is confident: “We were able to show that early, intensive therapy with this biologic helps patients maintain their quality of life and prevent bone damage.”

Detert J, Bastian H, Listing J, Weiß A, Wassenberg S, Liebhaber A, Rockwitz K, Alten R, Krüger K, Rau R, Simon C, Gremmelsbacher E, Braun T, Marsmann B, Höhne-Zimmer V, Egerer K, Buttgereit F, Burmester GR. Induction therapy with adalimumab plus methotrexate for 24 weeks followed by methotrexate monotherapy up to week 48 versus methotrexate therapy alone for DMARD naive patients with early rheumatoid arthritis: HIT HARD, an investigator-initiated study. Ann Rheum Dis. 2012 Jul 10. doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-201612

Links

Opens external link in current windowArticle in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases

Contact

Prof. Gerd-Rüdiger Burmester
Leiter der Medizinischen Klinik mit Schwerpunkt Rheumatologie und Klinische Immunologie
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 513 061



Back to Overview

Press release

02.10.2012

New Formula for Assessing Kidney Function with Age

Back to Overview

You are here:

Within the framework of a Berlin cohort study, scientists from CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin have succeeded in developing new mathematical formulas that dependently assess kidney function with age. The kidney function of 600 participants 70 years and older were measured in several blood samples with the help of small amounts of contrast agents. Based on the results, two new formulas were developed that provide more exact estimates than other standard formulas. The study has been published in the current issue of Annals of Internal Medicine*.

The ability of kidneys to free the blood from toxins slowly decreases with increasing age. This gradual reduction in kidney function is fundamentally normal, must however, be taken seriously. For example, medication doses must be adjusted and the administration of x-ray contrast agents must be reassessed. Furthermore, reliable information about kidney function is decisive for determining when a patient must begin dialysis (blood washing), or in deciding to be a living donor for kidney transplantation. As a result of the population’s increasing age, more and more people are affected by a reduction of kidney function. Thus the correct assessment of kidney performance is of great relevance.

In daily clinic life, kidney function is estimated with the help of mathematical formulas. This is usually done by calculating the patient’s age, gender, and the concentration of a particular metabolic product: creatinine. Creatinine is filtered out through urine, is however a very sensitive indicating marker especially with age. That is why formulas that only take into consideration the concentration of creatinine are not always reliable for older people. “Besides creatinine, the formula applied in the current study also includes blood values from the protein cystatin C which appears to be more appropriate than creatinine for assessing kidney function, especially with age,” states Dr. Elke Schaeffner, primary author of the study and physician at the Department of Nephrology and Internal Intensive Care Medicine at Charité.

* Elke S. Schaeffner et al: Two Novel Equations to Estimate Kidney Function in Persons Aged 70 Years or Older. In: Annals of Internal Medicine, Volume 157, Issue 7, 471-481.

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterArticle in Annals of Internal Medicine

Contact

PD Dr. Elke Schaeffner
Medizinische Klinik mit Schwerpunkt Nephrologie und Internistische Intensivmedizin
Campus Virchow-Klinikum
t: +49 03 450 553 131



Back to Overview

Press release

22.10.2012

World Health Summit: Global Health concept on the verge of collapsing – time to react is running thin

Back to Overview

You are here:

World Health Summit 2012, Pressekonferenz am 22.10.2012
World Health Summit 2012, Pressekonferenz am 22.10.2012: v.l.n.r. Richard Horton, Laurie Garrett, Severin Schwan, Judith Mackay

At the second day of the World Health Summit 2012, veterans in the fight for public health and global health fervently called to action on various areas. One of the biggest issues due to Laurie Garrett (Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations) is the financial situation, relying heavily on the US Government and the private “Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation”. The first will unavoidably cut their funding in the next months; the latter is not transparent at all. “The house of cards is about to collapse” she concluded, if measures are not taken immediately.

Another call for action was voiced by Judith Mackay (Senior Advisor, World Lung Foundation), speaking in the same keynote lecture as Laurie Garrett. She pronounced that the tobacco epidemic is not declining but will rise due to the increasing population – with a special worry about women from low and middle income countries who are now targeted by the tobacco industry. Combined with other approaches, improvement might follow from education, if for example states realize the loss of tobacco taxes will be balanced by tax returns from other sectors like restaurants, being more frequently visited after a smoking ban, and most importantly by reduction of health-care-costs.

A third speaker stressed the angle of money in the press conference: Severin Schwan (CEO, Roche Group). On the example of cancer he told that “most patients don’t have access to medicines due to their price”. Solidarity between rich and poor countries is needed to abandon uniform prizes and bring medicines to markets with prizing relative to the buyers economic capacities.
Three speakers shed light on three different areas of problems, soon to be tackled in order to improve health worldwide. Still, the time to react is running low. If a palpable cut on money for global health will be due within the next months, as Laurie Garrett predicts, possible solutions for these and other postulations will be immensely narrowed down. New concepts have to be developed – and they have to be developed soon.

The next press conference will be held on Tuesday, October 23rd, 12:20 – 13:10, “Room Bier” (5th level). It will focus on two major topics:

- The WHO "Health 2020" plan (presented by Agis Tsouros and Arun Nanda – WHO)
- "Outlook to Asia" (presented by John Wong and Chia Kee Seng – National University of Singapore)

Downloads

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterWorld Health Summit 2012
October 21st – 24th, 2012
Langenbeck-Virchow-Haus, Luisenstr. 58, 10117 Berlin

Contact

Tobias Gerber

Media & Communication Manager World Health SummitWorld Health Summit



Back to Overview

Press release

23.10.2012

World Health Summit: First negative health effects of due to austerity – a necessary or avoidable evil?

Back to Overview

You are here:

World Health Summit 2012, Abbildung: “There is first evidence of negative effects of austerity," erklärt WHO-Vertreter Agis Tsouros
“There is first evidence of negative effects of austerity," erklärt WHO-Vertreter Agis Tsouros

Discussions of the most pressing challenges for Global Health center time and again on money. Hence, it was with great interest that the keynote of Josef Ackermann (Chairman Zurich Insurance Group) at the third day of World Health Summit 2012 was being anticipated. Europe will face some years of low growth, perhaps even slight recession, the financial expert stated. Therefore, rational austerity has to be applied in order to renew the economic system sustainably, including the health system. Right steps have already been taken, but “there is no cure without pain”.

What effects the austerity might cause was being touched by Agis Tsouros (Head of the Policy and Cross-cutting Programmes, WHO Europe) in the following press conference while explaining the intention and rational behind WHO’s “Health 2020”-Agenda: “There is first evidence of negative effects of austerity,” although he stressed scientific proof about the exact correlation has yet to be delivered. It is not hard to infer from this statement, that if the observance of increasing health problems due to austerity does proof right, the anticipated years of poor economic growth will inevitably lead to increasing medical problems – in and beyond Europe.

Still, even dire lessons learned might benefit the heterogeneous Asian area, as John Wong (Vice Provost, Academic Medicine, of the National University of Singapore) emphasized in his introduction of the Inaugural World Health Summit Regional Meeting, due April 8th – 10th, 2013. With half of the world’s population living in Asian countries and massive effects of urbanization, severe challenges for health-care have to be faced. In this, Asia could learn a lot from the likewise heterogeneous Europe and thus save efforts. The Regional Meeting will bring the established expertise of the World Health Summit and its network to Asian partici-pants and help to substitute the slow evolution of the health system with learning from best practices and avoidable mistakes. “It would be a crime if Asia established a 20th century health-care system,” which is why the Regional Meeting will be so important, John Wong concluded.

The last press conference of the World Health Summit 2013 will be held on Wednesday, October 24th, 12:20 – 13:10, in Room Bier (5th level). It will focus on the day’s special topic “Information Technology for Health”, featuring these speakers:

Gerd Binnig (Nobel Prize Laureate in Physics 1986)
Volker Wetekam (CEO, GE)
Alain Labrique (JHBSPH,Baltimore)

Downloads

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterWorld Health Summit 2012
October 21st – 24th, 2012
Langenbeck-Virchow-Haus, Luisenstr. 58, 10117 Berlin

 

(The photo is free for usage – © World Health Summit 2013)

Contact

Tobias Gerber

Media & Communication Manager World Health SummitWorld Health Summit



Back to Overview

Press release

24.10.2012

World Health Summit: The end of an era in science and medicine

Back to Overview

You are here:

World Health Summit Press Conference: "The end of an era in science and medicine" (The photo is free for usage – © World Health Summit  2012)
World Health Summit Press Conference: "The end of an era in science and medicine"

Lessons learned after three days of World Health Summit 2012 project a drastic scenario: the status quo of global health standards is dismal; the existing system is about to collapse; economic growth cannot be expected soon; and first negative effects of austerity are being observed. The fourth and final day of this year’s Summit even pronounced the end of an era in how we do science and medicine, due to the rapid evolution of information technology.

In accord with earlier speakers, Gerd Binnig (Nobel Prize Laureate in Physics 1986), Volker Wetekam (CEO, GE) and Phillip Phan (Interim Dean, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School) highlighted positive effects the present paradigm change might cause. “IT will change health-care dramatically,” Gerd Binnig stated and elaborated how the enhanced possibilities of machines can and should be used as tools to improve cancer treatment. “Every cancer is different, which is where personalized medicine comes in,” merging the best of two worlds: human contextual intelligence and machines’ processing abilities.

Likewise Volker Wetekam put his finger on benefits the information age offers for updating health systems. If treated right, patient information can be computed where needed and in the right format. IT can support rising regional activities in health-care.

However, after several failures in recent years several obstacles remain. Systems and programs have to interact better; the wealth of information has to be provided in a manageable way; and the education of health-care workers has to be adjusted to the change in utilizing computers. Human expertise will never be substituted by machines, as Nobel Prize Laureate Gerd Binnig emphasized.

The authoritative participants of the press conference agreed the end of an era though information technology looms. But do these possibilities make the world a healthier place? This question was the central topic of the concluding panel discussion.

Health-systems worldwide face a multitude of changes – some of them implementable for the better. For example, IT already provides patients the means for self-care and self-management, which will be a crucial part of fighting Non-Communicable Diseases in the future – themselves a central topic at World Health Summit 2012 due to their disastrous impact.

Improvement is possible, but the need to act is now. The need to adjust to contemporary and near-future scenarios and demands is urgent, the time for  postponing decisions has already run out. Together, positive change is possible. But the effort has to be multi-sectoral and multi-thematical.

The World Health Summit, held under the high patronage of Angela Merkel and François Hollande will be continued in Berlin in October 2013. In the meantime, the first World Health Summit Regional Meeting will be held in Singapore, April 8th – 10th, 2013.

Downloads

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterWorld Health Summit 2012
October 21st – 24th, 2012
Langenbeck-Virchow-Haus, Luisenstr. 58, 10117 Berlin

Contact

Tobias Gerber

Media & Communication Manager World Health SummitWorld Health Summit



Back to Overview

Press release

25.10.2012

Turning Rhetoric into a Quality Label for the Future

Back to Overview

You are here:

IMS 2020 presents its quality label at the 2012 World Health Summit

A team of prominent European and Australian medical faculties working in collaboration with two European consultancy firms are on the verge of introducing a quality label to measure standards and levels of internationalization in medical education and research worldwide. This was the far reaching message at the annual meeting of the International Medical School 2020 (IMS) project that took place on the 22nd October within the context of the 2012 World Health Summit at the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin. “The IMS 2020 quality label will take a huge step towards achieving worldwide comparability of quality in internationalization in medical education and research” explained Ulrike Arnold, Head of the Charité International Cooperation (ChIC) and coordinator of the IMS 2020 project. “The label will improve visibility of the levels and standards of internationalization at medical faculties worldwide”. At the meeting a comprehensive presentation on the label methodology including label dimensions and filter criteria provided a concise insight into the previous two years project work.

The IMS 2020 quality label aims to enable the identification of leading international medical faculties and assist and advise in methods of improvement in this field. Thus such a label would facilitate and encourage the development of effective and sustainable internationalization strategies at medical faculties worldwide.

IMS 2020 is a three year Erasmus Life Long Learning project funded by the European Commission. Project partners include the Charité, Université Paris Descartes, the University of Antwerp, Sapienza Universitià di Roma, the Swedish Karolinska Institutet, the Medical University of Warsaw, Monash University of Melbourne (Australia), Brussels Education Services and the German consulting firm CHE Consult.

The next steps for the IMS 2020 project will be to embark on a test phase to valorize qualitative and quantitative indicators detailed in the quality label. In the near future IMS 2020 hopes to collaborate with M8 Alliance partner institutions thus assimilating North and South American and Asian institutions into its work. The M8 Alliance is a network of academic health centers and medical universities dedicated to improve global health. Furthermore the positive resonance from institutions further afield implicates possible future collaboration with African and other developing world countries. The IMS 2020 quality label would thus have an impact well beyond European frontiers. It is hoped that actual label accreditation will begin late 2013 or early 2014.

Links

Opens external link in current windowWorld Health Summit

Opens external link in current windowIMS 2020

Contact

Rachel Seeling, M.D.
IMS 2020 Project Manager
Charité International Cooperation
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 576 337



Back to Overview

Press release

22.11.2012

Alzheimer’s Disease in Mice Alleviated

Back to Overview

You are here:

Promising Therapeutic Approach for Humans

Hirnschnitt
Reduktion der Alzheimer-typischen Krankheitsveränderungen durch die Blockade von Bestandteilen des Interleukin (IL)-12 und/oder IL-23 Signalwegs – hier in Form der sog. β-Amyloid Plaques (schwarz gefärbte punktförmige Bereiche). Links: Hirnhälfte einer Alzheimer-Maus; rechts: Hirnhälfte einer Alzheimer-Maus ohne IL-12 Rezeptor.

Pathological changes typical of Alzheimer’s disease were significantly reduced in mice by blockade of an immune system transmitter. A research team from CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin and the University of Zurich has just published a new therapeutic approach in fighting Alzheimer’s disease in the current issue of Nature Medicine. This approach promises potential in prevention, as well as in cases where the disease has already set in.

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common causes of dementia. In Germany and Switzerland alone, around 1.5 million people are affected, and forecasts predict a doubling of the number of patients worldwide within the next 20 years. The accumulation of particular abnormal proteins, including amyloid-ß (Aβ) among others, in patients’ brains plays a central role in this disease. Prof. Frank Heppner from the Department of Neuropathology at Charité and his colleague Prof. Burkhard Becher from the Institute for Experimental Immunology at the University of Zurich were able to show that turning off particular cytokines (immune system signal transmitters) reduced the Alzheimer’s typical amyloid-ß deposits in mice with the disease. As a result, the strongest effects were demonstrated after reducing amyloid-ß by approximately 65 percent, when the immune molecule p40 was affected, which is a component of the cytokines interleukin (IL)-12 and -23.

Follow-up experiments also relevant for humans showed that substantial improvements in behavioral testing resulted when mice were given the antibody blocking the immune molecule p40. This effect was also achieved when the mice were already showing symptoms of the disease. Based on the current study by Prof. Heppner’s and Prof. Becher’s team, the level of p40 molecules is higher in Alzheimer’s patients’ brain fluid, which is in agreement with a recently published study by American colleagues demonstrating increased p40 levels in blood plasma of subjects with Alzheimer’s disease, thus showing obvious relevance for human therapy.

The significance of the immune system in Alzheimer’s research is the focus of current efforts. Prof. Heppner and Prof. Becher suspect that cytokines IL-12 and IL-23 themselves are not causative in the pathology, and that the mechanism of the immune molecule p40 in Alzheimer’s requires additional clarification. However, they are convinced that the results of their six-years of research work justify the step toward clinical studies in humans, for which they plan to collaborate with a suitable industrial partner.

In the context of other illnesses, such as psoriasis, a medication that suppresses p40 in humans has already been applied. “Based on the safety data in patients,” comment Profs. Heppner and Becher, “clinical studies could now be implemented without delay. Now, the goal is to bring the new therapeutic approach to Alzheimer patients quickly.”

Originalpublikation: vom Berg J, Prokop S, Miller KR, Obst J, Kälin RE, Lopategui-Cabezas I, Wegner A, Mair F, Schipke CG, Peters O, Winter Y, Becher B, Heppner FL. Inhibition of IL-12/IL-23 signaling reduces Alzheimer's disease-like pathology and cognitive decline. Nature Medicine. doi: 10.1038/nm.2965

Contact

Prof. Frank Heppner
Institut für Neuropathologie
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
Tel: +49 30 450 536 041
 

Prof. Burkhard Becher
Universität Zürich
Institut für Experimentelle Immunologie
Tel: +41 44 635 37 03



Back to Overview

Press release

22.11.2012

Charité hosts international conferences on allergy illnesses

Back to Overview

You are here:

The Allergie-Centrum of the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin will host three international scientific conferences in the upcoming week. According to Prof. Marcus Maurer, Associate Director of the Allergie-Centrum at the Klinik für Dermatologie, Venerologie and Allergologie: “Allergological issues have been gaining in importance among clinical physicians.” Prof. Mauer explains that all three conferences are focused on enabling scientific exchange about basic allergy research: “Our intent is to offer clinical physicians the opportunity to learn something about the cells, the basis for allergological illnesses. On the other hand, we wish to show researchers how these illnesses appear on the patient, outside of the laboratory.”

The most recent research demonstrates that mast cells from the body's own immune system can protect against certain allergy illnesses. On Monday, 26 November and Tuesday, 27 November, scientists from all over the world will meet at the International Mast Cell and Basophil Meeting (IMCBM) to discuss how these results can be used to treat or prevent allergies.

At the International Urticaria Consensus Meeting on Wednesday, 28 November and Thursday, 29 November, members of dermatological societies worldwide will meet to revise internationally valid guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of hives, also known as urticaria. Delegates will develop the new guidelines in panels, and the guidelines will then be approved by the approximately 250 conference participants.

The Skin Allergy Meeting (SAM), from Thursday, 29 November to Saturday, 1 December, is hosted by the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI). The goal of this year's meeting is to present the most recent clinical state of knowledge about the treatment of allergological skin illnesses. A large number of physicians from Asia will also take part in this conference, in order to disseminate their knowledge about new differential diagnoses and therapies across Europe.

All events will take place in the Langenbeck-Virchow-Haus, Luisenstraße 58/59 in 10117 Berlin. Participants should register on the website of the conference they wish to attend.

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterKlinik für Dermatologie, Venerologie und Allergologie

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterAllergie-Centrum-Charité

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterAnmeldung zum International Mast Cell and Basophil Meeting


Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterAnmeldung zum International Urticaria Consensus Meeting

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterAnmeldung zum Skin Allergy Meeting

Contact

Matthias Colli
Allergie-Centrum-Charité
Campus Charité Mitte
t: +49 30 857 489 401



Back to Overview

Press release

03.12.2012

A new promising approach in the therapy of pain

Back to Overview

You are here:

The treatment of inflammatory pain can be improved by endogenous opioid peptides acting directly in injured tissue. Scientists at the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin and the Université Paris Descartes showed that pain can be successfully treated by targeting immune and nerve cells outside the brain or spinal cord. The study is published in the current issue of the FASEB Journal*.

Inflammatory pain is the most common form of painful diseases. Examples are acute pain after surgery, and chronic pain as in the case of rheumatoid arthritis. However, the treatment of inflammatory pain is often difficult because it rarely responds to conventional therapies. Furthermore, opiates, such as morphine, produce serious side effects including addiction mediated in the brain, while drugs, such as ibuprofen, may cause stomach ulcers, internal bleeding, and cardiovascular complications. The activation of opiate receptors in nerve cells outside the brain or spinal cord can alleviate pain without serious side effects. This can be achieved by synthetic opiates or endogenous opioid peptides, e.g. enkephalins and endorphins. However, these peptides are rapidly inactivated by two major enzymes, aminopeptidase N (APN) and neutral endopeptidase (NEP), which limit their analgesic effects.

The aim of the research group of Prof. Halina Machelska-Stein from the Klinik für Anästhesiologie at Campus Benjamin Franklin was to prevent the breakdown of endogenous opioid peptides directly in the inflamed tissue. In an animal model, the group has shown that inflammatory pain can be alleviated if the two enzymes (APN and NEP), responsible for the inactivation of the opioid peptides, were blocked by the selective inhibitors. In preparations from immune or nerve cells, which express these enzymes, the opioid peptides were quickly broken down. This was prevented by the enzyme inhibitors, bestatin, thiorpan and P8B. As a result, the sensation of pain was either markedly reduced or completely disappeared. “Targeting of endogenous opioid peptides directly in injured tissues might be a promising strategy to treat inflammatory pain without serious side effects,” states Prof. Machelska-Stein, explaining the results of the investigation. Furthermore, blocking pain at the site of its origin may prevent excitatory mechanisms in the nervous system, which lead to the development of chronic pain.

* Schreiter A, Gore C, Labuz D, Fournie-Zaluski MC, Roques BP, Stein C, Machelska H. Pain inhibition by blocking leukocytic and neuronal opioid peptidases in peripheral inflamed tissue. FASEB J. doi: 10.1096/fj.12-208678

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterKlinik für Anästhesiologie mit Schwerpunkt operative Intensivmedizin

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterArticle in FASEB Journal

Contact

Prof. Halina Machelska-Stein
Klinik für Anästhesiologie mit Schwerpunkt operative Intensivmedizin
Campus Benjamin Franklin
t: +49 30 8445 3851



Back to Overview

Press release

10.12.2012

Chronic psychological symptoms in surgical patients

Back to Overview

You are here:

For many people, a surgical operation means a strong psychological and emotional stress. Scientists at the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin and the Universitätsklinikum Leipzig have now been able to show that these symptoms are often not temporary worries about the forthcoming operation, but frequently point to clinically significant psychological disorders that require treatment. The study, which comprised 1,157 surgical patients, was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), and it is published in the current issue of the scientific journal Plos One*.

In their study, the research group, headed by Privatdozent Dr. Henning Krampe, psychologist at the Charité Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, Prof. Claudia Spies, Director of the Charité Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine and Prof. Elmar Brähler, Head of the Department of Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology at the University of Leipzig, initially recorded how many patients faced by a forthcoming operation were interested in psychotherapy sessions and to what extent this interest was associated with the increased psychological distress occurring before the operation. Finally, the scientists examined whether changes in the psychological symptoms took place during the six months following the surgery.

”It is striking how persistently high depression, anxiety, general psychological symptoms and alcohol problems remained for patients with an interest in psychotherapy – even six months after the surgery”, states Privatdozent Dr. Henning Krampe, leader of the BRIA project (Bridging Intervention in Anesthesiology) at the Charité Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine. “This stability of distress in a wide range of psychological disorders would suggest that it is not a question of temporary worries and stress due to the operation, but rather of chronic psychological symptoms requiring psychotherapeutic treatment.”

It is necessary – both from a psychotherapeutic and medical perspective – to treat the psychological disorders of surgical patients. Depression, anxiety and addiction, if left untreated, contribute to surgical complications as well as to a worse recovery after the operation. In this manner, they promote overall a less favourable course of the medical disease through to a higher mortality rate.

“In further investigations we were able to show that over 30 percent of the surgical patients suffer from clinically significant depression, and that elevated depression in these patients represents an important risk factor for a longer stay in hospital”, explains Prof. Claudia Spies. “The objective of the BRIA programme developed by us in 2009 is to detect, diagnostically determine and effectively treat the psychological symptoms of surgical patients. From a long-term perspective, this approach contributes to enhancing the overall quality of life and to improve recovery of the medical diseases of our patients.”

In BRIA, the researchers of the interdisciplinary project have developed a new therapy programme, which begins with a short computer-aided questionnaire survey before the operation and immediate feedback on the results of the survey. By this means, it is possible for the patients to receive psychotherapeutic motivational interventions, comprehensive psychological diagnostics and supportive therapy while still in hospital. “In the end, patients with diagnosed psychological disorders and interest in therapy receive individually designed psychotherapeutic bridging sessions which help them to find effective access as quickly as possible to long-term psychosocial therapy options of routine health care”, explains Henning Krampe. An initial clinical study showed that the stepped-care approach of BRIA can be successfully integrated into the context of anesthesiological and surgical hospital care.

* Kerper LF et al. Persistence of Psychological Distress in Surgical Patients with Interest in Psychotherapy: Results of a 6-Month Follow-Up. PLoS ONE 7(12): e51167. doi:10.1371.

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterArticle in Plos One

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterKlinik für Anästhesiologie mit Schwerpunkt operative Intensivmedizin

Contact

Privatdozent Dr. Henning Krampe
Klinik für Anästhesiologie mit Schwerpunkt operative Intensivmedizin
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 531 145



Back to Overview

Press release

03.01.2013

Patients Have a Greater Chance of Survival When Overweight

Back to Overview

You are here:

A new study reveals the benefits of being overweight in the event of a stroke

Stroke patients who are overweight or obese die less often and suffer fewer disabilities than those with an ideal body weight. This is revealed by a new study that was undertaken in cooperation with the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin and published in the European Heart Journal*. This seemingly contradictory correlation, which is also known as the obesity paradox, has been observed in the past in association with other chronic conditions such as heart failure. This newly published study demonstrates for the first time that the obesity paradox also holds true with strokes.

In their study, the researchers investigated the relationship between body weight and the consequences of a stroke. They found out that overweight individuals are more likely to survive a stroke and suffer fewer disabilities and require less care than people of normal weight after having a stroke. The risk of actually having a stroke in the first place is, however, higher for overweight people than for those of normal weight, although overweight individuals who have already suffered a stroke are by no means more at risk of having another stroke. Prof. Wolfram Döhner from the Center for Stroke Research Berlin at the Charité is lead author of the study. He states: “This realisation is new for stroke patients. All of the treatment guidelines in Germany, Europe and the USA have hitherto recommended that patients who are overweight or obese lose weight after suffering a first stroke. These recommendations are, however, based on expert opinions that rely solely on knowledge gained from primary prevention because actual data concerning this matter have not yet been collected.” According to the current study, underweight individuals are most severely affected by a stroke. Compared to people of supposed ideal weight, the risk of overweight people dying from a stroke is 14 percent less. In the case of obese patients, the mortality risk is reduced by 24 to 45 percent.

The researchers consider the results of this study to be a stark contrast to the common recommendation given to patients to lose weight after a first stroke. According to Prof. Döhner, the insight gained from the research work “only goes against the grain of the mantra of slimness that we have hammered home as a universal health guarantee”. He goes on to example that “weight management should, however, be differently assessed for individuals with existing illnesses”. Data taken from 1,521 patients in a multicentre stroke study conducted from 2003 to 2005 were evaluated in this study. According to the criteria set by the World Health Organisation, anybody with a body mass index (BMI) of between 18.5 and 25 is considered to have a normal body weight.

* Doehner, Wolfram; Schenkel, Johannes; Anker, Stefan D.; Springer, Jochen; Audebert, Heinrich J. 2012. Overweight and obesity are associated with improved survival, functional outcome, and stroke recurrence after acute stroke or transient ischaemic attack: observations from the TEMPiS trial. In: European Heart Journal Advance Access, doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehs340.

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterArticle im European Heart Journal

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterCenter for Stroke Research Berlin

Contact

Prof. Wolfram Döhner
Centrum für Schlaganfallforschung Berlin
Campus Virchow-Klinikum
t: +49 30 450 553 507



Back to Overview

Press release

10.01.2013

Overweight begins in the womb

Back to Overview

You are here:

Lifestyle of mother shapes disposition for subsequent weight

A disposition for overweight is shaped even before birth. This has been proven by scientists of the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin in an international study, which has appeared in the professional journal Plos One*. The study reveals: children with a birth weight of more than 4,000 grams are twice as much at risk of becoming overweight in later life than those with normal birth weight.

The results of the study show that the lifestyle of the mother-to-be has a substantial impact on the lifelong risk of overweight. Prof. Andreas Plagemann from the Charité Department of Obstetrics headed the study. He explains: “Even more than before, the course of pregnancy is proving to be the key factor for the health of the child for its whole life.” Overweight, overnutrition, lack of exercise and the resulting metabolic disorders during pregnancy may lead to a high birth weight. In order to investigate the relationship between the individual birth weight and the risk of overweight in later life, Prof. Plagemann’s research team evaluated 66 studies that have been conducted for this purpose. Data from a total of over 640,000 probands up to 75 years in age from 26 countries and 5 continents were included.

The increase in overweight and obesity now existing in broad sections of the population is one of the biggest health-related problems worldwide, including Germany. More than half of the adult population are now overweight, while 15 percent of children and young people are already affected. A large number of problems in the areas of medical care as well as social and health economics are the consequences of this. For example, overweight is one of the major risk factors for diabetes, heart attack, stroke, cancer, musculoskeletal disorders as well as mental problems. “The new findings show that preventing overweight for the whole of later life is already possible before birth”, Prof. Plagemann stresses.

* Schellong, Karen; Schulz, Sandra; Harder, Thomas; Plagemann, Andreas: Birth Weight and Long-Term Overweight Risk: Systematic Review and a Meta-Analysis Including 643,902 Persons from 66 Studies and 26 Countries Globally. In: Plos One, Volume 7, Issue 10, October 2012. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047776.t001.

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterKlinik für Geburtsmedizin

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterArticle in Plos One

Contact

Prof. Andreas Plagemann
Klinik für Geburtsmedizin
Campus Virchow-Klinikum
t: +49 30 450 524 041



Back to Overview

Press release

23.01.2013

DFG extends Collaborative Research Centre at Charité

Back to Overview

You are here:

Ten million Euros for research on immunological therapy

The DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) has now extended the funding of a research association which is located at the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin. The Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) will receive funding in excess of ten million Euros over the next four years. The aim of this cooperation is the development of new treatment methods which can be employed to treat autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis with as little side effects as possible and on a permanent basis.

A total of 19 groups from the Charité, the German Rheumatism Research Centre, the Freie Universität Berlin, and the Max Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine Berlin-Buch are working together in the SFB 650 “Cellular approaches to a suppression of unwanted immune reactions”. The interdisciplinary project groups research new treatment possibilities which make use of the cellular regulatory mechanisms under the leadership of Prof. Hans-Dieter Volk. Prof. Volk is the director of the Institut für Medizinische Immunologie at the Charité as well as of the Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies (BCRT). On the one hand, they are attempting to influence cellular signalling pathways in such a way that pathological immune responses are suppressed in a specific manner and immunological balance is restored. The SFB 650 has already achieved clinical success in this regard in patients with severe of rheumatic diseases and foreign organ transplant. On the other hand, the association partners are searching for possibilities to generate, strengthen or transfer the suppressive, regulatory cells of the immune system – the so called peacekeepers of the body.

“Perhaps soon, the healing of patients with chronic inflammatory diseases will not be only a vision anymore. Maybe we will find a way to avoid unspecific, immunosuppressive medications after a transplantation, which are associated with considerable side effects”, hopes Prof. Volk, spokesperson of the SFB 650. Autoimmune diseases are chronic diseases which are caused by undesired immune reactions of the body. Examples are rheumatoid arthritis, type I diabetes and multiple sclerosis, but also allergies and rejections of organ transplants. For the most part, these illnesses which cannot yet be cured are very painful and lead to severe health threats.

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterInstitut für Medizinische Immunologie

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterBerlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies (BCRT)

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterSFB 650

Opens external link in current windowGerman Rheumatism Research Centre (drfz)

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterFreie Universität Berlin (FU)

Opens external link in current windowMax Delbrück Center for Melecular Medicine Berlin Buch (MDC)

Contact

Prof. Hans-Dieter Volk
Director of the Institute for Medical Immunology
Director of the Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies (BCRT)
Campus Virchow-Klinikum
t: +49 30 450 513 302



Back to Overview

Press release

11.02.2013

With nanotechnology against pollen allergy

Back to Overview

You are here:

New chances for allergy suffers through early detection

Scientists at the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin have now been able to identify the grass pollen molecule, against which the allergic response of hay fever in children is initiated. In addition, it was shown that the first individual antibodies generated in children against individual pollen molecules can be identified even before the initial symptoms of a pollen allergy are developed. The findings of this long-term study have appeared in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology*.

In its study, the Molecular Allergology working group headed by Adj. Professor Dr. Paolo Matricardi of the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pneumonology and Immunology at the Campus Virchow-Klinikum, investigated the data and blood samples taken from 820 children. These children come from five cities in Germany and had been taking part in this multicenter allergy study since their birth in 1990. As part of a sub-project investigating the development of the allergic immune response in childhood, which was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation), the working group was for the first time also able to examine the data using nanotechnological methods at a molecular level. Hitherto in current allergy diagnostics, antibodies against a natural grass pollen extract (a mixture of several allergenic modules) are detected.,. In this study, a so-called allergen chip was used, which enables antibodies against individual, microscopically small pollen molecules to be made visible and identified.

The research findings of the study show that the special proteins used by the body’s immune system to repel invading pathogens, the so-called IgE antibodies, can be developed years before the first symptoms occur. These antibodies can be identified in children even at pre-school age. They represent key biomarkers that indicate whether a child will suffer from a grass pollen allergy. In addition, a single pollen molecule was identified, the so-called Phl p 1, which in most cases stands at the head of the reaction chain: although the children affected initially only develop a few IgE antibodies to a specific type of pollen, they subsequently create other IgE antibodies to other pollen molecules as well. The immune system responds to an increasing number of different allergens, often before allergic symptoms are recognisable. Methods of treatment, such as hypo- or desensitisation, do not invariably lead to success. One reason for this might be that the therapy does not start until the children affected are already suffering from the allergy, and the body has already created antibodies against a range of different allergen molecules.

“The detection of lgE antibodies at an early stage could enhance the prospects of a successful therapeutic and even preventative intervention”, according to a confident Laura Hatzler, the first author of the study. “The investigation of allergen-specific, immunological treatments at early stages of the disease process in childhood represents the next step in our research.”

*Hatzler, Laura et al. 2012. Molecular spreading and predictive value of preclinical IgE response to Phleum pratense in children with hay fever. In: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Volume 130, 827-1016. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2012.05.053.

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterKlinik für Pädiatrie mit Schwerpunkt Pneumologie und Immunologie

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterArtikel im Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

Contact

Privatdozent Dr. Paolo Matricardi
Klinik für Pädiatrie mit Schwerpunkt Pneumologie und Immunologie
Campus Virchow-Klinikum
t: +49 30 450 566 406



Back to Overview

Press release

12.02.2013

Help for patients with tuberous sclerosis

Back to Overview

You are here:

New therapy reduces renal tumours

In collaboration with the Berlin TSC Centre, CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin has developed a new therapy for patients suffering from renal tumours associated with the rare genetic disease tuberous sclerosis (TSC). The researchers have succeeded in markedly reducing the tumour volume in TSC patients by using the drug Everolimus. The results of the study appear in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet*.

Tuberous sclerosis is a rare genetic disease that can affect many organs, including the kidneys, the brain, the skin, the lungs and the heart. The disease is characterised by a malfunctioning regulation of the so-called mTOR pathway. mTOR is an integral component of a protein complex that integrates different cell pathways, regulates the production of proteins and thus controls cell growth and the cell cycle. The malfunctioning regulation of the mTOR pathway leads to excessive cell growth, which, in turn, results in the formation of benign tumours on the skin and in the body. The constant growth, however, may cause severe haemorrhages and the suppression of other organs. In addition, renal tumours may trigger serious renal problems.

“This worldwide clinical trial for regulatory approval has for the first time shown that the use of the drug Everolimus, a so-called mTOR inhibitor, can substantially reduce the tumour volume in patients with renal tumours triggered by the genetic disease tuberous sclerosis”, states Prof. Klemens Budde, Senior Physician in the Medical Department, Division of Nephrology at Campus Charité Mitte and responsible author of the study. Within half a year, the tumour volume in nearly half the patients affected had been reduced by more than 50 percent. In addition, the drug had beneficial effects on the skin symptoms of a quarter of the patients.

This new medication could therefore offer an effective alternative to the operative removal of the kidneys in the long term, the Lancet editorial emphasises. The development of an approved drug therapy for a rare genetic disease is an outstanding example of years of basic research paying off with the emergence of new targeted therapy approaches. As in many diseases the mTOR pathway is defective, mTOR inhibitors can be used, for instance, with organ transplant patients, malignant renal tumours, rare neuroendocrine tumours and even with breast cancer.

“A worldwide study for a rare disease such as TSC would scarcely have been possible without the excellent collaboration with the researchers in the interdisciplinary Berlin Tuberous Sclerosis Centre”, stresses Dr. Christoph Herztberg, Head of the TSC Centre Berlin at the Neukölln Vivantes Clinic.

*Bissler, John et al. 2013. Everolimus for angiomyolipoma associated with tuberous sclerosis complex or sporadic lymphangioleiomyomatosis (EXIST-2): a multicentre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. In: The Lancet, Early Online Publication, Retrieved Jan 21, from doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61767-X.

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterOriginalpublikation in The Lancet

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterTSC-Zentrum Berlin

Contact

Prof. Klemens Budde
Klinik mit Schwerpunkt Nephrologie
Campus Charité Mitte
t: +49 30 450 514 002



Back to Overview

Press release

13.02.2013

EEG activity predicts success learning

Back to Overview

You are here:

Brain does not process sensory information sufficiently in bad learners

A research team from Berlin, Bochum and Leipzig has now provided an explanation as to why some people learn less well than others. The principle difficulties lie in insufficient processing of the information to be learned at the decisive positions of the brain. The current article on the matter by the research teams operating at the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin, the RUB – Ruhr Universität Bochum, the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin and the the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig has been published in the latest issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

During their study work, the scientists trained the sense of touch in 26 students by electrically stimulating the skin on their hands repeatedly for 30 minutes. Before and after the stimulation, they tested the so-called two-point discrimination threshold, a unit of measurement for the sensibility of the sense of touch. The scientists impinged a slight pressure on the hand by means of two needles, and then measured the smallest distance between the needles where the probands were able to distinguish between these two as separate stimulants. On average, the passive training improved the discrimination threshold by some twelve percent.

The Berlin and Leipzig collaboration partners then continued to record the spontaneous EEG of the participantsbefore and during the passive training. Then, they identified those components of brain activity, which appeared connected by an improvement during the discriminations test. Of decisive importance were the alpha waves, being brain activity in the frequency range between 8 and 12 Hertz. The test results showed, that the higher the alpha activity before the passive training, the better the probands displayed learning skills. Apart from this, they also tended to learn more easily, the more the alpha activity declined during the passive training. These effects were noticed to appear via the somatosensory cortex, being the place where the sense of touch is located.

“It would now be an exciting question as to how far the ‘alpha’ activity could be deliberately influenced”, remarked Dr. Hubert Dinse from the Neural Plasticity Lab of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. ‘That could have enormous implications on therapies after brain damage, or quite generally for the understanding of learn processes’.

“As to how the alpha rhythm is able to exercise an influence on the learning capacity, is being currently examined with computer models”, explained Dr. Petra Ritter, Head of the Working Group BrainModes at the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin and at the MPI Leipzig. “Only when we begin to understand the complex processing of information in the brain, will we be able to intervene in the processes in a targeted manner, in order to alleviate cases of disruptions”, added Dr. Petra Ritter. To develop new therapy approaches in this manner is the declared aim of the collaboration network, which Dr. Ritter coordinates, the international ‘Virtual Brain’ Project, which her team collaborates on, and the ‘Neural Plasticity Lab’ headed by Dr. Dinse at the RUB.

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterKlinik für Neurologie 

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterArtikel im Journal of Neuroscience

Contact

Privatdozentin Dr. Petra Ritter
Klinik für Neurologie
Campus Charité Mitte
t: +49 30 450 560 005



Back to Overview

Press release

14.02.2013

Scientists improve Arthritis Treatments

Back to Overview

You are here:

Rheumatism patients can hope for a new therapy

Together with colleagues from the international rheumatic diseases research community, scientists of the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin have presented a new therapy approach for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic form of joint inflammation. The new therapy study was especially directed at patients who showed no adequate response to conventional treatment with tumor–necrosis-factor directed reagents (anti TNF). The new approach represents a combined form of treatment with the medication Methotrexat and Tofacitinib. The results were recently published in the Medical Journal ‘The Lancet’*.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a widespread autoimmune disorder where long lasting inflammatory processes cause strong pain and gradually destroy the joints of the patients affected. In the majority of RA patients, there is an enhanced level of a certain cytokine in the body, the so-called tumor-necrosis-factor (TNF). This mediator is formed by immune cells, and is, among other factors responsible for the painful symptoms. The treatment with anti-TNF agents neutralises the signal effects of TNF and thus alleviates the suffering of those affected. However, should such a treatment show no effect, then alternative treatment methods have to be applied. During the course of a six month study, 399 patients in 13 countries participated, who were suffering from a moderate to severe form of rheumatoid arthritis. They were all treated with a combination of Methotrexat, a standard drug for the treatment of RA and Tofacitinib, a new type of medication which can be administered orally as a tablet. Tofacitinib is a kinase inhibitor, which inhibits special enzymes which are involved in the inflammatory reactions in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. When the so-called Janus kinases are inhibited, painful immune reactions are reduced.

This current study has shown that the combination of Methotrexat and Tofacitinib has ia high degree of efficacy in the treatment of RA, even in patients, who failed to react to standard treatment of severe cases with anti TNF agents. After half a year, the additional administration of the new medication led to an improvement in the initial symptoms in more than half of the patients. This meant that conditions of painful joint inflammation can now be efficiently treated with this drug, even in cases that had been refractory to anti-TNF treatment.

Prof. Burmester, the Principal Investigator of the Study views the results as a highly effective alternative in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. As a next step, long-term examinations are to be initiated, for the purpose of recording the effectiveness and the compatibility as well as any possible risks of the new combination therapy.

* Burmester, Gerd et al. 2013. Tofacitinib (CP-690,550) in combination with methotrexate in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis with an inadequate response to tumour necrosis factor inhibitors: a randomised phase 3 trial. In: The Lancet, Early Online Publication. Retrieved Jan 18, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61424-X.

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterMedizinische Klinik mit Schwerpunkt Rheumatologie und Klinische Immunologie

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterArticle in The Lancet

Contact

Prof. Gerd-Rüdiger Burmester
Medizinische Klinik mit Schwerpunkt Rheumatologie und Klinische Immunologie
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30  450 613 220



Back to Overview

Press release

21.03.2013

The immune system can delay healing of bone fractures

Back to Overview

You are here:

Researchers at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin have succeeded in demonstrating an association between delayed bone fracture healing and increased concentration of specific immune cells in the blood of the patient. Results of the study show that the adaptive immune system responds to the fracture in a similar way as to an infection and attempts to fight against it. The study appears in the current issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine*.

In their study, the team of researchers led by Prof. Georg Duda and Prof. Hans-Dieter Volk, directors of the Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies (BCRT) at Charité, examined the role of the acquired immune system in the process of fracture healing. Their study focused on so called CD8+ T-cells, which recognize pathogens (e.g. a bacteria or viruses) through specific receptors and eliminate them by releasing certain proteins (cytokines). The researchers found an association between delayed bone healing and elevated concentrations of a sub-group of CD8+ T-cells - known as TEMRA cells - in the patient’s blood. These cells indicate an aged immune system. They do not require a direct pathogen contact to become activated, but instead, respond directly to inflammatory signals. “Our study suggests that TEMRA cells misinterpret the fracture as a pathogen infection. In case of a fracture, they migrate to the side of injury and locally release specific cytokines, which compromises the function of pro-regenerative cells, resulting in a delayed healing,” says Dr. Simon Reinke, one of the two lead authors of the study. The researcher then took these studies into mice and found that depletion of CD8+ T cells by a specific antibody therapy significantly improved the healing, whereas adding CD8+ T cells impaired fracture regeneration.

“Our study establishes a mechanistic link between the individual immune profile and the fracture healing outcome,” states the other lead author of the study, Dr. Sven Geißler. In the future, this knowledge could be used for the early prediction of the healing outcome and for the targeted intervention. Thus, it opens the opportunity for the development of new therapies to improve and accelerate the healing of bone fractures or potentially other tissue injuries.

* S. Reinke, S. Geissler et al. Terminally Differentiated CD8+ T Cells Negatively Affect Bone Regeneration in Humans. Sci. Transl. Med. 5, 177ra36 (2013).

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterBerlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies (BCRT)
Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterArticle in Science Translational Medicine

Contact

Prof. Hans-Dieter Volk
Director of the Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies (BCRT) and
Director of the Institute for Medical Immunology
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 524 062



Back to Overview

Press release

04.04.2013

A protein enables risk assessment

Back to Overview

You are here:

Course of cardiovascular events more predictable

Researchers at the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin have managed to predict the probability of a cardiovascular patient suffering a heart attack, stroke or arterial occlusion within three months. In the long-term, this knowledge may enable targeted preventive measures. The results of the study have appeared in the current issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal*.

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in the Western industrial world. Around half of all deaths in Germany result from heart or vascular disease. In collaboration with the Universitätsklinikum Tübingen, the research group headed by Dr. Stephan von Haehling from the Department of Cardiology at Campus Virchow-Klinikum examined a total of 2,568 patients between 57 and 79 years of age, who had visited the clinic presenting heart or chest pains. They were suffering from chronic symptoms resulting from a narrowing of the coronary vessels or had an acute incident, such as a heart attack, due to such changes. Blood was drawn from the patients and the serum frozen at minus 80°C. The samples were then analyzed for the concentration of a specific protein, the plasma protein PAPP-A (pregnancy-associated plasma protein A). PAPP-A had initially been detected in the 1970s in the blood serum of pregnant women. The concentration of this protein in the blood of pregnant women provides indications of genetic changes in the DNA of the fetus, and is usually used for fetal screening. Since 2001, researchers have been working on the possibility of also using PAPP-A for assessing the risk in association with cardiovascular diseases.

The current study has demonstrated that all patients, who suffer a heart attack, stroke, arterial occlusion or die within 90 days following the first examination, exhibit a higher PAPP-A concentration in their blood serum than patients without such events in the same period. In addition, it emerges that the type of underlying disease, the sex and body mass index do not have any influence on the concentration of the protein. The results of the study suggest that the PAPP-A concentration is a strong, independent biomarker for predicting the probability of a patient with heart complaints suffering from a secondary disease in the short-term. “The assessment of future risks for patients with cardiovascular disease is a key medical task. With the help of a blood test, the progression of a disease in cardiac patients could be predicted significantly better in the future, thus reducing the severe consequences“, explains Dr. Stephan von Haehling.

* von Haehling, Stephan et al. 2013. Value of serum pregnancy-associated plasma protein A for predicting cardiovascular events among patientspresenting with cardiac chest pain. In: Canadian Medical Association Journal, doi:10.1503./cmaj.110647.

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterMedizinische Klinik mit Schwerpunkt Kardiologie
Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterArtikel im Canadian Medical Association Journal

Contact

Dr. Stephan von Haehling
Department of Cardiology
Campus Virchow-Klinikum
t: +49 30 450 553 506



Back to Overview

Press release

26.04.2013

Charité returns ancestral remains to indigenous communities in Australia

Back to Overview

You are here:

In an official ceremony, the Charité today returned ancestral remains to representatives of indigenous peoples in Australia. In November 2008 the Charité was the first scientific institution in Germany to sign an agreement with Australia which agreed that remains were to be returned for the purpose of “a dignified burial”. At the ceremony today Prof. Karl Max Einhäupl, Chairman of the Executive Board of the Charité, reaffirmed this agreement and declared: “We respect and support the wishes of the indigenous communities of Australia to bury ancestral remains in accordance with their religious beliefs and within the vicinity of their ancestral territory.”

The Traditional Owners will accompany the remains to their homeland where they will be given a dignified resting place. The Australian Government also supports the indigenous peoples in this request.

In total the collection comprises of skulls and skeletal parts of 33 individuals. Most of the remains arrived in Germany in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and were preserved in numerous Berlin collections. Some of them arrived at the Charité only after 1990. The origins of these ancestral remains and the circumstances by which they were brought to Germany, could not be clarified in all cases. It is believed that German explorers received some skulls from local collectors, however the reliability of these sources is uncertain. In some cases trade with indigenous people and grave robbery took place. In general, the remains were acquired and transported to Germany for the purpose of anthropological studies and investigations.

Since 2010, the Charité has worked in the DFG-funded Human Remains Project under the directorship of Privatdozent Dr. Andreas Winkelmann, teaching coordinator Anatomy, and Prof. Thomas Schnalke, Director of the Berliner Medizinhistorisches Museum der Charité. The main aim of the project has been to determine the history of the skulls and the skeletal remains.

Contact

Privatdozent Dr. Andreas Winkelmann
Lehrkoordinator der Anatomie
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 570 400



Back to Overview

Press release

29.05.2013

The Charité is once again “Best Clinic in Germany”

Back to Overview

You are here:

University clinic in Berlin wins first place in the national Focus Magazine ranking by a wide margin

Hauttumorcentrum HTCC

The CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin has emerged as the overall winner in a broad ranking of clinics by Focus Magazine, thus retaining its title from the previous year.

Focus magazine’s list of clinics is the result of the most comprehensive nationwide comparison of more than 2,000 German hospitals. The research team collected data on the quality of medical- and nursing care over a six-month period. The ranking is based on a combination of success rates, patient safety, clinical quality management measures, technical equipment, the qualification of specialists and skilled personnel, and above all on the recommendations of more than 22,000 medical specialists. The results show that Charité is once again Germany’s Best Clinic, leaving the Klinikum der Universität München, the University Medical Center Freiburg and the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus Dresden far behind.

In the majority of the specialties evaluated in the survey, the Charité secured the leading position in subsequent rankings. Particularly rewarding, is the fact that the Charité has maintained its pole position in the field of high-risk perinatal care both at the Department of Obstetrics at the Campus Charité Mitte and also at the Campus Virchow-Klinikum. These departments operate in accordance with the highest medical standards and are responsible for ensuring almost 5,000 births annually.

The Chairman of the Executive Board of the Charité, Prof. Karl Max Einhäupl, attributed this achievement first and foremost to the excellent services that are provided by the 10,000+ Charité employees every day. The teamwork of all those involved, spanning numerous professional groups and medical specialties is the key to the Charité’s success and forms the foundation for excellent care.” This is of particular relevance in the context of the creation of the newly founded Berlin Institute of Health (BIH), an institution that unites the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine with the Charité. ”Within the BIH clinical care and research have been integrated. First class research is inspired by close clinical observation and collaboration and new research findings lead to progress in medical care – these are important factors which benefit our patients. At the Charité, we aim to remain the leader in the field of medical innovation, contributing towards and inspiring new momentum for innovation and change.”

Matthias Scheller, the Hospital Director of the Charité, sees the extraordinary renewed success of the Charité as an incentive and a source of encouragement. “Quite apart from the excellent quality of clinical services on offer throughout the Charité, the continued modernisation of Charité buildings remains our priority.” This is essential in order to ensure that hospital recuperation is not only safe and medically successful but also that it takes place in an environment that is as comfortable for patients as possible.”

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterDeutsche Kliniken im Vergleich: Welches Krankenhaus ist das beste?

Contact

Manuela Zingl
Stellvertretende Pressesprecherin
Geschäftsbereich Unternehmenskommunikation
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 570 400



Back to Overview

Press release

03.06.2013

Mobile stroke unit improves stroke care

Back to Overview

You are here:

Positive results from the two-year research project

Vorstellung der Studienergebnisse des Berliner Stroke-Einsatz-Mobils (STEMO)
Das STEMO-Team mit Gerhard W. Meyer (Meytec GmbH), Wilfried Gräfling (Landesbranddirektor, Berliner Feuerwehr), Prof. Karl Max Einhäupl (Vorstandsvorsitzender der Charité), Prof. Heinrich Audebert (Leiter des STEMO-Forschungsprojekts, Klinik für Neurologie , Charité), Cornelia Yzer (Berliner Senatorin für Wirtschaft, Technologie und Forschung), Prof. Matthias Endres (Direktor der Klinik für Neurologie, Charité) (v.l.)

A large-scale study by the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin involving 7,000 patients reveals that a considerably greater number of persons affected by strokes can be treated effectively and significantly more quickly by use of the mobile stroke unit (STEMO). The STEMO is a rescue vehicle especially designed for patients suffering from strokes: on board are a computer tomograph and a mini laboratory as well as specially trained rescue personnel and a neurological specialist.

“The STEMO represents a first-class collaboration between the Charité, the Berlin Fire Brigade and the two Brandenburg companies which have worked together to develop this specialized ambulance.”, stated Prof. Karl Max Einhäupl, Chairman of the Executive Board of the Charité. At the presentation, Senator Yzer congratulated the entire team for the national and international recognition received by the project – most recently last week in London. Cornelia Yzer, Senator for Economics, Technology and Research, stated: “The STEMO funding from the Berlin Fund for the Future is an outstanding investment in medicine, technology and research. The mobile stroke unit illustrates what technology funding together with the researcher spirit and medical know-how can achieve in Berlin. This is yet another of Berlin’s reference projects to have triggered international interest.”

Time is of the essence when a person is having a stroke, because no tissue is irreparably damaged as fast as brain tissue when the supply of blood is interrupted. In this representative comparative study, the researchers headed by Prof. Heinrich Audebert of the Department of Neurology and Project Director assessed the data from 7,000 patients over a period of 21 months. In the process, the STEMO was used in a normal rescue vehicle in alternating weeks. “In the knowledge that 1.9 million nerve cells die every minute during an acute stroke, we are delighted that a relevant improvement in the treatment of strokes in Berlin has been achieved as part of a new care concept”, Prof. Heinrich Audebert stated.

In comparison to the control weeks, both a reduction in the time from the emergency call up to the initiation of treatment and a significant increase in the lysis frequency were revealed. The lysis therapy consists of using medication to dissolve a blot clot that is clogging an artery. In the cases that the STEMO received an alarm, 50 percent more stroke patients received such a lysis compared to those patients receiving conventional hospital treatment. Therefore, overall the treatment rate increased from 21 to 33 percent. The time between the emergency call and the therapy was reduced by 25 minutes. The treatment received was just as secure as in a hospital.

Prof. Matthias Endres, Director of the Department of Neurology at the Charité, considers the project equally positively, stating: ”We are confident that competent medical treatment of specific disease patterns can take place within these specially designed ambulances. Such timely intervention will provide us with the opportunity to use novel therapies.”

The STEMO was developed in a consortium consisting of the Charité, the Berlin Fire service as well as the Meytec GmbH and Brahms GmbH companies

press photos

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterDownload

Downloads

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen Fensterhttp://neurologie.charite.de/

Contact

Prof. Heinrich Audebert
Head of the STEMO Project
Klinik für Neurologie
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 8445 2276



Back to Overview

Press release

18.06.2013

Altered Brain Structure in Pathological Narcissism

Back to Overview

You are here:

Patients with narcissistic personality disorder exhibit a reduction of gray matter in the region of the brain responsible for feeling compassion. This is the conclusion reached by a team of scientists at the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin and the Berlin Free University as part of a cooperation in the “Languages of Emotion” Excellence Cluster. The study has now appeared in the “Journal of Psychiatric Research” professional magazine.

A far-reaching disorder of the self-esteem is denoted as a narcissistic personality disorder. Persons with pathological narcissism on the one hand suffer from feelings of inferiority, while on the other hand projecting themselves to the world as arrogant, disparaging and self-absorbed. One of the key features of a narcissistic personality disorder is the lack of empathy. Although patients suffering from such a disorder are well able to recognize what other persons feel, think and intent, they display little compassion.

In this study, the team of scientists led by Privatdozent Dr. Stefan Röpke from the Charité Department of Psychiatry and Director of the personality disorders working group, have for the first time demonstrated the structural correlate of this deficit. They analyzed a total of 34 test subjects, of which 17 suffered from a narcissistic personality disorder. By means of various tests, the researchers had already revealed in a preliminary study that these patients actually exhibit a deficit of the ability to emphasize. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods, the scientists measured the thickness of the patients’ cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex forms the external nerve cell layer of the brain. The findings revealed that those subjects suffering from narcissistic personality disorder exhibited structural abnormalities in precisely that region of the brain, which is involved in the processing and generation of compassion. For patients with narcissism, this region of the cerebral cortex was markedly reduced in thickness compared to the control group.

“Our data shows that the amount of empathy is directly correlated to the volume of gray brain matter of the corresponding cortical representation in the insular region, and that the patients with narcissism exhibit a structural deficit in exactly this area,” states Dr. Röpke, commenting on the findings. “Building on this initial structural data, we are currently attempting to use functional imaging (fMRI) to understand better how the brains of patients with narcissistic personality disorder work.”

Lars Schulze, Isabel Dziobek, Aline Vater, Hauke R. Heekeren, Malek Bajbouj, Babette Renneberg, Isabella Heuser, Stefan Roepke. Gray matter abnormalities in patients with narcissistic personality disorder. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 17 June 2013 (10.1016/j.jpsychires.2013.05.017).

Links

Opens external link in current windowKlinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie

Contact

Privatdozent Dr. Stefan Röpke

Klinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie

CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin

t: +49 30 8445 8796



Back to Overview

Press release

27.06.2013

Using computer models to predict more effective therapies

Back to Overview

You are here:

Implantatgestützte Rekonstruktionen

Scientist at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin have used a computer simulation for predicting the effectiveness of various combination therapies for colon tumors. The study has been published in the current issue of the professional journal Molecular Systems Biology*.

In most tumors, the communication between the individual cells is disturbed and the cells permanently receive growth and survival signals. For this reason, drugs are increasingly used in modern tumor therapy that targets those molecules to shut down these faulty signals. Hitherto, however, it has been difficult to predict the success of such a therapy, since the signal molecules are integrated into an extremely complex cellular network, which, moreover, reacts differently for each patient, depending on the mutations the tumor bears.

The research group headed by Nils Blüthgen, Charité Institute of Pathology, has now examined how the interconnection of such a cellular network affects the effectiveness of a therapy. For this purpose, the scientists created computer models to simulate the networks of various colon cancer cells. The models were adapted to quantitative data from cell culture experiments. When analyzing their computer simulations, the researchers discovered that the cellular tumor networks exhibited strong feedback characteristics. This means that the cutting off of a particular signal molecule activates a receptor, which, in turn, then switches on signal paths that favor the survival of the tumor cell. In a further step, the computer model predicted a combination therapy using two drugs, which prevents the activation of survival signals, so making for a more effective therapy. The scientists have tested these predictions on various cell models. “The remarkable thing is that the combination of two therapies is effective with a large number of different mutations, including the mutant oncogene KRAS. This is a gene, which is of key importance for the regulation of growth and differentiation processes, and for which no targeted therapy has been possible up to now”, stated Nils Blüthgen. “However, it is still too early to say whether this behavior detected in the cell culture model can be applied to patients. Here, further investigations are necessary”.

This approach undertaken by the researchers to combine computer models with quantitative data to simulate the behavior of networks is called system biology. It is considered a promising method of examining therapies and diagnostics for complex diseases. “Particularly when investigating the effect of inhibitors in complex networks, it is hardly possible to predict the network’s response without the use of computer models”, according to Blüthgen.

*Klinger, B., Sieber, A., Fritsche-Guenther, R., Witzel, F., Berry, L., Schumacher, D., Yan, Y., Durek, P., Merchant, M., Schäfer, R., Sers, C. and Blüthgen, N. Network quantification of EGFR signaling unveils potential for targeted combination therapy. Molecular Systems Biology, 9: 673, 2013.

Links

http://sys-bio.charite.de/

Contact

Prof. Nils Blüthgen
Institut für Pathologie
Campus Charité Mitte
t: +49 30 2093 8924



Back to Overview

Press release

04.07.2013

Like an invisible conductor

Back to Overview

You are here:

Fundamental process for cell growth and communication between cells conceived

Scientists from Berlin have succeeded in explaining the molecular machinery of a central cellular transport process. Using chemical probes and high-resolution fluorescence microscopy, the molecular biologists were able to track the components involved in the process called endocytosis in detail and even produce short film shots of the cells. The scientists involved came from the Leibniz-Institut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP), Freie Universität Berlin and the NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence of the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin, the joint medical faculty of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Freie Universität Berlin. The work was published in the current edition of the renowned journal Nature.*

The cellular transport investigated is important for numerous bodily functions, such as the uptake of nutrients from the blood or stimulus conduction in the brain. It also plays a role in the development of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. Of decisive importance in this process are lipid molecules that serve as identification markers in the cell membrane. These lipid molecules can be modified by enzymes in the blink of an eye and thus dictate the direction of transport. At first sight, the processes taking place in living cells appear to be totally chaotic: substances are permanently being synthesised and broken down again, three-dimensional structures are formed and decay again. In order to take up substances from the surroundings and transport them, the cell invaginates its external membrane and constricts tiny vesicles in a process called endocytosis. As if directed by an invisible conductor, the vessels then migrate into the interior of the cell. But where does the order come from in this apparent chaos? In their paper, the research group led by Prof. Dr. Volker Haucke has shown how such a complicated process organises itself, the individual components, optimised over millions of years, engaging like cogwheels.

It was already known that certain components of the cell membrane collect at the point at which the cell is going to invaginate. These substances are phosphoinositides, called PIPs in the laboratory jargon: they consist of a fat-soluble tail, anchored in the lipid membrane, and a water-soluble head, which projects very slightly into the interior of the cell. These heads are particularly characteristic in their chemical properties, so that other cell components such as protein molecules recognise them and can bind to them. This is how the formation or the transport of vesicles is driven.

At the same time, the PIP heads can be easily modified, since perfectly fitting enzymes can detach the phosphate groups and reattach them in different orientations, thus giving the head a different face. In a complicated search for evidence, the group's leader Volker Haucke, his doctoral candidate York Posor and other researchers involved show how a certain enzyme accumulates upon invagination and transforms the initial PIP within seconds into another, previously less characterised PIP. When York Posor blocked this enzyme using genetic-engineering methods, the system froze so to speak. In comparative film sequences, he demonstrated how the invaginations remained suspended on the membrane. In the normal course of endocytotic vesicle transport, in contrast, the transformed PIP then attracts a special protein, which advances the further invagination and detachment of the vesicles. This in turn calls new enzymes into action, which further transform the PIPs. A chain of chemical reactions thus leads to a spatial-temporal dynamic with a specified direction.

"We can now quite precisely determine which molecules and how many of them are to be found at a particular time and place," explains Volker Haucke. "This can even be expressed in mathematical models, and we are currently preparing a further publication on this subject." The whole system runs under its own organisation, but also reacts to external influences. "We suspect that the enzymes that produce or break down the PIPs also serve as a sensor, in order to ensure the supply of nutrients to the cell and react appropriately. Among other things, this sensor function determines whether a cell grows and divides, which is of importance in the development of cancer. At the same time, the PIPs influence the communication between cells, for example in the brain, or the breakdown of clumped protein molecules, a central cause of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's."

*Source: Spatiotemporal control of endocytosis by phophatidylinositol-3,4,bisphosphate: Nature, Band 498, 11. Juli 2013. DOI: 10.1038/nature12360

Contact

Prof. Volker Haucke
Exzellenzcluster NeuroCure
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin  
t: +49 030 838 56922

 

 



Back to Overview

Press release

11.07.2013

Novel gene for heart failure discovered

Back to Overview

You are here:

Scientists at the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, Berlin-Buch, in cooperation with colleagues from Kiel, Boston, Zurich and London, have identified a gene responsible for the development of a congenital form of heart failure. In their study, they show that changes in the PRDM16 gene on chromosome 1 lead to heart failure. Further studies in zebrafish point to the fact that PRDM16 plays a role in embryonic heart development. The study by the interdisciplinary research team has been published in one of the leading journals in the field of genetics, the American Journal of Human Genetics*.

Congenital heart defects occur in 8 of every 1,000 newborn children and therefore represent one of the most common developmental disorders. The causes can usually be traced back to disturbances during the first three months of embryonic development. Many of these cases have been linked to a defect in the number or structure of human chromosomes. One of the most common chromosomal abnormalities in humans involves the loss of a particular region of chromosome 1, known as the 1p36 deletion syndrome. The loss of this region leads to a number of malfunctions in various organs. For example, the structure of the wall of the left ventricle of the heart develops abnormally, leading to early heart failure (cardiomyopathy).

A precise mapping of the genetic information lost on chromosome 1 carried out by the researchers revealed that only parts of a single gene, the PRDM16 gene, are lost in patients with this special heart abnormality. “Following our localization of the genomic locus, we also examined patients with the isolated form of this congenital cardiomyopathy for deviations in PRDM16, and were able to identify changes that impair the functioning of PRDM16,” says PD Dr. Sabine Klaassen, Physician and Researcher in the Charité Department of Pediatrics, Division of Cardiology and the Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC). The team also demonstrated genetic changes in PRDM16 in 5 of 131 individuals with a pathological enlargement of the left heart, known as dilated cardiomyopathy, but in none of of the 6,400 persons examined as controls.

Next, using functional experiments in zebrafish, a model organism used in heart research, the researchers showed that PRDM16 plays a role in embryonic heart development. “The zebrafish model enables us to understand the function of the normal and the altered PRDM16 in the development of the heart,” explains Dr. Anne-Karin Arndt, Assistant Physician at the Clinic for Congenital Heart Defects and Pediatric Cardiology at the Schleswig-Holstein University Clinic in Kiel and first author of the publication. “Our successful identification of the functional effects of the gene defect in animal models should allow us, during the next phase, to develop therapies based on the understanding of the newly identified genetic changes.”

*Original publication: Arndt et al., Fine Mapping of the 1p36 Deletion Syndrome Identifies Mutation of PRDM16 as a Cause of Cardiomyopathy, The American Journal of Human Genetics (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2013.05.015

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterExperimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC)

Contact

Privatdozentin Dr. Sabine Klaassen
PD Dr. Sabine Klaassen
Clinic for Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Cardiology
Experimental and Clinical Research Center (ECRC)
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
Tel.: +49 30 450 540656 and +49 30 9406 3319



Back to Overview

Press release

16.07.2013

Charité involved in new EU project on diabetes mellitus

Back to Overview

You are here:

Stromal stem cell research on complications caused by diabetes mellitus

Under the newly approved EU research project REDDSTAR, CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin is researching new possibilities for treating complications stemming from diabetes mellitus. The three-year project will be conducted throughout Europe with ten partner institutions in Germany, Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal and the USA. It is being funded with a total of six million euros by the European Commission as part of the 7th Framework Program for Research and Technological Development.

Many diabetic patients suffer from severe complications. The scientists now want to investigate, whether bone marrow stromal stem cells can safely regulate blood sugar and reverse vascular damage. "Research like this could not be accomplished by one institution alone. As a partner in the EU project, I am very excited about the opportunity to develop this very promising treatment method for diabetic complications. We anticipate new insights into how so-called diabetes-induced cardiomyopathy (a heart muscle disease) can be cured by the administration of bone marrow stromal stem cells," said Prof. Carsten Tschöpe of the Department of Cardiology and Pulmonology at Charité.

Approximately 60 million diabetes mellitus patients in the EU regularly take medication to regulate their blood sugar levels. However, the often substantial fluctuations involved can lead to complications over the long term such as kidney disease, retinal disease, heart muscle disease, nervous disorders, impaired bone healing and ulcer formation. Earlier studies confirmed the potential of stromal stem cell administration for the regulation of blood glucose and the stimulation of healing of damaged blood vessels. In the recently started EU research project REDDSTAR, researchers will first use animal models to study how stromal stem cells can be used in the treatment of typical diabetes complications. The findings will then be applied to the treatment of the patient as a second step.

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterDepartment of Cardiology and Pulmonology
Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterBerlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies
Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterEU project REDDSTAR

Contact

Prof. Carsten Tschöpe
Department of Cardiology and Pulmonology and
Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 8445 4781



Back to Overview

Press release

29.08.2013

Can drinking water make you thin?

Back to Overview

You are here:

Nutrition researchers take a close look at folk wisdom

Hauttumorcentrum HTCC

If you drink lots of water, you lose weight. This is a widespread belief. But is there any truth in it? Now, a research team at Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin has examined this notion in a comprehensive meta-study. The researchers evaluated studies published in professional literature that concerned the relationship between water intake and weight reduction. Their analysis showed that although drinking water cannot induce weight loss by itself, it might have a supportive effect for weight loss in combination with a diet. The results of their study have been published in the current issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition*.

Numerous dietary regimens in non-scientific publications and on Internet sites promise that drinking lots of water helps with weight loss. The presumable reason for this belief is the rapid sense of satiety that occurs if one drinks water before a meal. Another hypothesis claims that drinking water boosts energy consumption thereby increasing basal metabolism. “Although dietary programs often recommend drinking lots of water, until now there has been no scientifically based justification for such recommendations. Given the widespread prevalence of this subject, it is surprising that relatively few studies to date have examined the relationship between body weight and water drinking,” states Dr. Rebecca Muckelbauer, a nutritional scientist at Charité’s Berlin School of Public Health (BSPH) and lead author of the study.

The researchers searched through four international electronic databases for scientific articles written in English, Spanish, French and German. However, of the nearly 5,000 references, only a few fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The researchers could not include most of the studies in their analysis due to poor quality or unsuitable content. Ultimately, there were a total of 13 studies that qualified for detailed analysis. Of this group, two interventional studies and an additional longitudinal study showed that increased water consumption in older cohorts had a positive effect on the success of a diet. Those participants who drank about one liter of additional water a day while on the diet lost about one to two kilograms more than those individuals who only followed the dietary program. For healthy adults who were not on a diet, there was no correlation shown with body weight. Six additional cross-sectional studies with participants from different weight classes led to contradictory results.

In the final analysis we can say that drinking water will cause no harm so long as one excludes individuals suffering from cardiac insufficiency or problems with fluid elimination. Also, anyone who drinks water instead of fruit juices or soft drinks will save many calories. Whether increased water consumption can make you thinner above and beyond this is a question that remains to be scientifically proven.

* Muckelbauer, Rebecca; Sarganas, Giselle; Grüneis, Anke; Müller-Nordhorn, Jacqueline. 2013. Association between water consumption and body weight outcomes: a systematic review. In: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition;98(2):282-99. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.055061.

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterBerlin School of Public Health http://bsph.charite.de/en

Contact

Dr. Rebecca Muckelbauer
Berlin School of Public Health
Campus Virchow-Klinikum
t: +49 30 450 570 828



Back to Overview

Press release

03.09.2013

New therapeutic approach to fight cancer discovered

Back to Overview

You are here:

Resting cancer cells can be selectively destroyed by inhibiting their energy metabolism. This is the recent discovery by researchers at Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in Berlin-Buch, together with other cooperation partners from Germany. The findings of their study have been published in the scientific journal Nature*.

Chemotherapy does not kill all cancer cells, but instead, some cells enter a state known as senescence (programmed growth arrest). While in this state, the tumor cells are inactive and no longer divide. Nevertheless, senescence comes with hidden dangers. For instance, senescent cells produce protein messenger substances that can cause harmful inflammatory reactions. Moreover, senescent cells may pose a risk of cancer recurrence. Researchers working around Prof. Dr. Clemens Schmitt, Director of the Center for Molecular Cancer Research and Executive Supervising Medical Doctor at the Department of Hematology, Oncology and Tumor Immunology at the Charité, have now discovered a way to target senescent cancer cells for destruction.

“We have demonstrated a major increase in energy metabolism in senescent tumor cells after chemotherapy, and that the cells truly crave for sugar,” explains Prof. Schmitt. “Moreover, we could show that these cells not only produce more energy, but are dependent upon their major increase in metabolism,” he added. When the researchers inhibited sugar metabolism in the cells, they died off. By contrast, short-term inhibition of energy metabolism has little effect on resting or dividing cells in normal tissues. The researchers regard the cause for the high energy consumption in senescent cells as representing another unique feature: the moment the cells enter the state of senescence, they produce large quantities of protein messenger substances. These substances must then be digested, a highly energy-consuming process, since some of the proteins are toxic. Thus, if either energy production in the senescent cells or their digestive processes is blocked, they cannot survive.

“What is unique about this research study is the new understanding of a potential target structure for treating malignant diseases: as a rule, current and very promising so called “targeted” agents specifically inhibit the activity of an altered molecule that is present in cancer cells,” explains Prof. Schmitt. Contrary to this, the researchers with their new therapeutic approach are proposing to use a cancer-specific state, i.e. cellular senescence resulting from chemotherapy, as the therapeutic target of a downstream metabolic therapy to destroy tumor cells, and not just a single molecule. “This represents a highly promising research approach at the interface between preclinical research and clinical trials,” states Schmitt. “The idea behind our approach could be very relevant in future strategies for treating cancer patients; in view of this clinical potential, we are currently conducting further investigations,” he adds.

In addition, the oncologist emphasizes the interdisciplinary character of the research findings, primarily developed in Berlin, and says, “This important study has been made possible by the excellent research landscape in Berlin and the close collaboration between transnational clinical researchers from the Charité with primary scientists from the MDC – brought even closer together in the newly founded “Berlin Institute of Health.”

Dörr JR, Yu Y, Milanovic M, Beuster G, Zasada C, Däbritz JH, Lisec J, Lenze D, Gerhardt A, Schleicher K, Kratzat S, Purfürst B, Walenta S, Mueller-Klieser W, Gräler M, Hummel M, Keller U, Buck AK, Dörken B, Willmitzer L, Reimann M, Kempa S, Lee S, Schmitt CA. Synthetic lethal metabolic targeting of cellular senescence in cancer therapy. Nature. 2013 Aug 14. doi: 10.1038/nature12437.

Downloads

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterMolekulares Krebsforschungszentrum

Contact

Prof. Dr. med. Clemens A. Schmitt
Direktor des molekularen Krebsforschungszentrums
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin



Back to Overview

Press release

19.09.2013

A Brake in the Head

Back to Overview

You are here:

German researchers gain new insights into the working of the brain

Scientists of the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) have managed to acquire new insights into the functioning of a region in the brain that normally is involved in spatial orientation, but is damaged by the Alzheimer’s disease. They investigated how nerve signals are suppressed inside the so-called entorhinal cortex. According to the researchers, this neuronal inhibition leads nerve cells to synchronize their activity. The results of this study are now published in Neuron*.

The entorhinal cortex is a link between the brain’s memory centre, the hippocampus, and the other areas of the brain. It is, however, more than an interface that only transfers nervous impulses. The entorhinal cortex also has an independent role in learning and thinking processes. This is particularly applicable for spatial navigation. “We know precious little about how this happens," says Prof. Dietmar Schmitz, a researcher at the Cluster of Excellence NeuroCure at the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin and Site Speaker for the DZNE in Berlin. “This is why we are investigating in animal models how the nerve cells within the entorhinal cortex are connected with each other.“

Signals wander inside the brain as electrical impulses from nerve cell to nerve cell. In general, signals are not merely forwarded. Rather, operation of the brain critically depends on the fact that the nerve impulses in some situations are activated and in other cases suppressed. A correct balance between suppression and excitation is decisive for all brain processes. “Until now research has mainly concentrated on signal excitation within the entorhinal cortex. This is why we looked into inhibition and detected a gradient inside the entorhinal cortex,” explains Dr. Prateep Beed, lead author of the study. "This means that nerve signals are not suppressed equally. The blockage of the nerve signals is weaker in certain parts of the entorhinal cortex and stronger in others. The inhibition has, so to speak, a spatial profile.”

When the brain is busy, nerve cells often coordinate their operation. In an electroencephalogram (EEG) – a recording of the brain’s electrical activity – the synchronous rhythm of the nerve cells manifests as a periodic pattern. "It is a moot question as to how nerve cells synchronize their behavior and how they bring about such rhythms," says Beed. As he explains, it is also unclear whether these oscillations are only just a side effect or whether they trigger other phenomena. "But it has been demonstrated that neuronal oscillations accompany learning processes and even happen during sleep. They are a typical feature of the brain's activity," describes the scientist. "In our opinion, the inhibitory gradient, which we detected, plays an important role in creating the synchronous rhythm of the nerve cells and the related oscillations.”

In the case of Alzheimer’s, the entorhinal cortex is among the regions of the brain that are the first to be affected. “In recent times, studies related to this brain structure have increased. Here, already in the early stages of Alzheimer's, one finds the protein deposits that are typical of this disease,” explains Schmitz, who headed the research. “It is also known that patients affected by Alzheimer’s have a striking EEG. Our studies help us to understand how the nerve cells in the entorhinal cortex operate and how electrical activities might get interrupted in this area of the brain.”kommen kann.“

*Originalveröffentlichung: „Inhibitory gradient along the dorso-ventral axis in the medial entorhinal cortex“, Prateep Beed, Anja Gundlfinger et al. Neuron. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2013.06.038.

Contact

Prof. Dietmar Schmitz
Exzellenzcluster NeuroCure
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 539 054



Back to Overview

Press release

02.10.2013

An immune messenger determines

Back to Overview

You are here:

How the skin of patients with psoriasis protects itself from virus infections

Scientists at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin have discovered why patients with psoriasis are less susceptible to viral infections than patients suffering from atopic dermatitis (atopic eczema). The reason for this is the larger quantity of special proteins present in psoriatic skin, which inhibit viral replication. The interdisciplinary team under the direction of Dr. Robert Sabat from the Department of Dermatology and the Institute of Medical Immunology, in collaboration with the Institute of Virology and the Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies (BCRT), has additionally discovered a new function of the immune system. The study is published in the current issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine*.

Psoriasis and atopic dermatitis are the two most common chronic diseases of the skin, from which over 40 million people suffer in the US and in EU alone. They cause persistent visible changes of the skin that severely impact the quality of life of the patients. In addition, the damaged skin barrier enables pathogens, such as viruses, to penetrate the skin and multiply. Surprisingly, only atopic dermatitis patients show a high incidence of cutaneous viral infections, which exacerbate the course of atopic dermatitis and if not treated promptly, might be life-threatening. The authors of the just-published study show that compared to the skin of patients with psoriasis, the skin of atopic dermatitis patients produces smaller quantities of what are known as antiviral proteins, which inhibit viral replication. In the search for the trigger responsible for these differences in protein production in the two skin diseases, the research team came upon the immune messenger interleukin-29.

“Of the thirty messengers produced by the immune cells that we examined in psoriatic skin, we only found a correlation with the quantities of antiviral proteins for interleukin-29,” explains Dr. Kerstin Wolk from the Institute of Medical Immunology at the Charité, one of the study’s two first authors. “In fact, interleukin-29 is present in psoriatic skin, but not in affected skin of atopic dermatitis patients.” Removing this immune protein from skin samples taken from patients with psoriasis diminishes the quantity of antiviral proteins in these samples. Using experiments with healthy skin, skin models and isolated cells from the upper layer of the skin, the team additionally showed that interleukin-29 is able to stimulate the production of antiviral proteins, and thereby to protect the skin cells from viral infection.

Moreover, the researchers showed that interleukin-29 is produced by a specific population of immune cells known as Th17 cells. “These cells promote the production of antiviral proteins and thus, anti-viral defences in the skin cells,” explains Dr. Katrin Witte from the Institute of Medical Immunology at the Charité, also a first author of the study. Thus, they simultaneously uncovered a new function of the immune system.

“It is conceivable that the therapeutic administration of interleukin-29 or substances that mimic its effects could increase patients’ local defences against viruses. This would be applicable not only for atopic dermatitis, but also for other chronic inflammatory diseases that take place in epithelia, such as certain lung conditions in which viral infections represent a cofactor. This treatment could alleviate the course of such illnesses,” states Dr. Robert Sabat, Head of the Psoriasis Research and Treatment Center at the Charité.

* Science Translational Medicine, 25 September 2013, Vol. 5, Issue 204, p. 204ra129, Sci. Transl. Med. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3006245

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterKlinik für Dermatologie, Venerologie und Allergologie
Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterPsoriasis Forschungs- und BehandlungsCentrum
Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterInstitut für Medizinische Immunologie
Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterInstitut für Virologie
Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterBerlin-Brandenburger Centrum für Regenerative Therapien (BCRT)

Contact

Dr. Robert Sabat
Klinik für Dermatologie, Venerologie und Allergologie
Institut für Medizinische Immunologie
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 518 625



Back to Overview

Press release

14.10.2013

Understanding Inflammation

Back to Overview

You are here:

Structure of the host protein LBP deciphered

Scientists of CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin for the first time have solved the 3-dimensional structure of the protein LBP and it´s genetic variant. This finding may help certain patients to better survive severe infectious diseases. The results have been published in the recent issue of the journal Immunity*.

This host protein mediates the induction of fever as central inflammatory reaction to infection and enables the organism to fight it off successfully. This natural reaction in some patients leads to severe courses potentially including the dramatic syndrome of sepsis. For the outcome of these diseases apparently a genetic variation of LBP frequently found among individuals in Europe plays a role. In cases of sepsis and pneumonia carriers have a significantly decreased survival rate.

"These findings primarily may help in identifying high risk patients early in order to intensify prophylactic measures and by that protect them. Furthermore, in the future the therapeutic application of intact LBP could represent a novel intervention strategy," explains Prof. Ralf Schumann, M.D. of the Institute for Microbiology and Hygiene of the Charité and head of this international collaboration.

The importance of these results are confirmed by Prof. Ernst Rietschel, Ph.D., chairman of the board of the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH), the newly founded joint institute of the Charité and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine: "On one hand inflammation research as an aspect of systems medicine is one of the agreed focus areas of BIH and the findings reported here can be explored in more detail within the new Institute in the future." He adds: "On the other hand the results published are exemplary for the concept of translational research aimed at making use of basic research knowledge for immediate use in clinical medicine."

*J.K. Eckert et al.: The Crystal Structure of Lipopolysaccharide Binding Protein Reveals the Location of a Frequent Mutation that Impairs Innate Immunity. Immunity, 39, 1, 2013. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.immuni.2013.09.005.

Links

Opens external link in current windowInstitute for Microbiology and Hygiene

Opens external link in current windowArticle

Contact

Prof. Ralf Schumann, M.D.
Institute for Microbiology and Hygiene
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 570 400



Back to Overview

Press release

30.10.2013

Better quality of life for patients with hormonal disorders of the gonads and adrenals

Back to Overview

You are here:

New European research project coordinated by the Charité

The CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin is now commencing a new EU research project, dsd-LIFE, to improve clinical care in individuals suffering from hormonal disorders of the gonads and adrenals. The fifteen project partners in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom will jointly investigate the established treatment methods and their long-term effects, such as hormone therapies, experiences with surgical interventions and psychosocial support. The project is funded by the European Union.

The conditions being researched include the “Turner Syndrome”, the “Klinefelter Syndrome”, “Disorders of Testosterone Synthesis or Action” and the “Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia”. They are grouped under the medical umbrella term “disorders of sex development” and are often associated with life-long hormonal treatment. “Disorders of sex development” is a term encompassing a large variety of adrenal and gonadal hormonal imbalances. It was introduced in 2005 through the International Consensus Conference on Intersex in Chicago with the aim of developing more patient-centered treatment. Appropriate terminology in this field is currently debated. 

“Our multidisciplinary European consortium dsd-LIFE seeks to evaluate and improve the treatment of patients with these different conditions in close cooperation with patient organizations. We wish to contribute to a better quality of life for affected persons, to support doctors and psychosocial counsellors in taking good decisions and to create new information material for patients, relatives and anyone interested in DSD,” says Dr. Birgit Koehler, project coordinator. “We are now asking patients to participate in our study and help us reach these goals”, she adds. Affected persons who are interested can contact Dr. Köhler or Dipl.-Psych. Bennecke at eustudie-koehler(at)charite.de or at the following phone numbers: + 49 30 450 550 885 or 450 553 855.

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterEU-Projekt dsd-LIFE

Contact

Dr. Birgit Köhler
Institute for Experimental Pediatric Endocrinology
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 566 292



Back to Overview

Press release

22.11.2013

Every heart failure is different

Back to Overview

You are here:

European researchers lay cornerstone for improved treatment of heart failure

Scientists at the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin have now presented their first results of the EU-funded multicenter research project, SICA-HF (Studies Investigating Comorbidities Aggravating Heart Failure). They have found that heart failure can lead to a general wasting in the skeletal muscle, which differs from age-related muscle wasting and should therefore be treated in a targeted manner. Partners from the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Slovenia, Poland and Russia were involved in the project. It has a duration of four years and was funded with 3 million Euros from the European Union.

For the project, health related data were collected from more than 1400 patients and 350 healthy subjects in order to better understand the comorbidities in patients with heart failure. Analyzing the data, the specificity of muscle wasting with heart failure became notable. Dr von Haehling, scientific coordinator of the study, commented on the results as follows: "We have managed to identify a new subgroup of patients with chronic heart failure, for which a very specific therapy development appears highly promising. If this is successful, we could significantly improve the quality of life of our patients." He expects to extract further important information about heart failure from the data now available. According to estimates, about 14 million Europeans suffer from chronic heart failure; many of them are over 70 years old. Heart failure is one of the leading causes of death in the Western world.

Links

http://www.sica-hf.com/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21475696
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23178647

Contact

PD Dr. Dr. Stephan von Haehling
Medizinische Klinik mit Schwerpunkt Kardiologie
Campus Virchow-Klinikum
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 553 506



Back to Overview

Press release

13.12.2013

New Methods Improve Breast Cancer Therapy

Back to Overview

You are here:

The Charité presents research findings at world's largest conference on breast cancer

Scientists at the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin have identified new pieces of the puzzle surrounding more specifically targeted and patient-specific use of chemotherapy in breast cancer. They were able to identify groups of patients, in which the use of chemotherapy is expected to be particularly effective. The researchers present their latest findings this week at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in Texas, USA. These results were obtained in the context of the EU research project RESPONSIFY, funded in the amount of 6 million Euros distributed across partners in six European countries.

In Europe, approximately 463,000 women show new cases of breast cancer each year. The aim of the RESPONSIFY project is to identify the conditions that determine which specific drug substances might be expected to be the most or, if it is the case, least effective in the treatment of breast cancer, including the substances trastuzumab, lapatinib and carboplatin. In order to better observe the effects on the tumor, researchers administered the chemotherapy and aforementioned drug substances prior to surgically removing the tumor. They found that carboplatin is effective in patients with tumors in which many inflammatory cells can be found. Trastuzumab and lapatinib exhibit relatively weak effects in tumors exhibiting a certain mutation occurring in approximately 19 percent of cases. "We have demonstrated that the body's own defense system is capable of supporting and strengthening the effects of chemotherapy." was how Prof. Carsten Denkert of the Institute of Pathology described the results. "We are very pleased to now present the findings of a European research project here in Texas and to have prompted such international interest."

 

 

Links

http://www.responsify-fp7.eu

Contact

Prof. Dr. Carsten Denkert
Institut für Pathologie
Charité Campus Mitte
t: +49 30 450 536 047



Back to Overview

Press release

12.02.2014

Computed Tomography or Cardiac Catheterization?

Back to Overview

You are here:

Charité Coordinates EU Study Analyzing the Effectiveness of Cardiac CT

DISCHARGE Projekttreffen 12.2.2014
DISCHARGE Projekttreffen 12.2.2014

Scientists from 28 research facilities in 20 European countries are meeting today in Berlin to kick off the collaborative research project DISCHARGE. The purpose of this project is to determine for which patients with chest pain cardiac CT or cardiac catheterization is best suited. The DISCHARGE project received six million Euros of funding from the European Union for five years and is coordinated by CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin.

In Europe, approximately 3.5 million cardiac catheterizations are performed each year. However, 50 to 60 percent of these minimally invasive examinations do not result in any further treatment. Prof. Dr. Marc Dewey from the Department of Radiology at Charité coordinates the project and will examine together with his partners whether or not non-invasive computed tomography (CT) of the heart is an effective procedure in diagnosing or excluding coronary artery disease. This could be beneficial for patients in two ways: patients would be exposed to lower risks due to the non-invasive nature of CT, and the examination itself is less burdensome and can be carried out on an outpatient basis. “Given the broad scope of our DISCHARGE collaborative research, we expect to achieve conclusive results, which will directly impact practice in cardiovascular medicine. We very much hope that our findings can contribute to improving medical care for cardiac patients”, commented Prof. Dewey at the start of the project.

Interested patients are kindly requested to contact the Department of Radiology by telephone at +49 30 450 627 264 or via email at discharge.eu(at)charite.de.

Downloads

Contact

Prof. Dr. Marc Dewey
Department of Radiology
Campus Charité Mitte
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 527 353



Back to Overview

Press release

05.03.2014

Charité Hands Over Human Remains Dating from the Colonial Period

Back to Overview

You are here:

Once again, the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin has handed over the human remains of members of various ethnic groups originating from the former German South-West African region to the National Heritage Council of Namibia. The Charité's Board Chairman, Prof. Karl Max Einhäupl and Council Chairperson Esther Mwoombola-/Goagoses signed the hand-over document in the presence of Jerry Ekandjo, Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture at an official ceremony today which was also attended by numerous high-ranking representatives of both governments and Namibia's indigenous communities.

Addressing today’s audience, Prof. Einhäupl stressed that "first and foremost this repatriation process must serve to honor the victims themselves. Simultaneously however, we must never forget that at the time in question, the core principles of human dignity were frequently violated in the name of science. These human remains were used to legitimize a racist colonial ideology that permeated all spheres and levels of society in the early twentieth century." Prof. Einhäupl went on to emphasize that such wrongdoings must serve as an acute reminder to today's researchers that they must aspire to be the guardians of historically informed, responsible scientific investigation.

The 21 victims were members of the Herero, Nama, San, Damara and Ovambo ethnic communities. Over the past three years a research project coordinated by Charité scientists has attempted to identify the origins of the human remains and determine how they found their way into anthropological collections in Berlin. It could thus be revealed, that the remains that were handed over today belong to twelve women, seven men and two children and were brought to Berlin between 1898 and 1913. The origins of only five persons could be clearly traced to the period of the colonial wars in Namibia (1904 to 1908). The majority of these persons appear to have died of natural causes, while others were clearly victims of lethal violence. Their remains will now be transported to Namibia and finally returned to their homelands, more than 100 years after their deaths.

This is the fourth time that the Charité has been instrumental in returning human remains from its anthropological collections to their countries of origin. In addition to Namibia, remains have also been returned to indigenous communities in Paraguay (2012) and Australia (2013).

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterCharité Human Remains Project

Contact

Uwe Dolderer
Leiter des Geschäftsbereichs Unternehmenskommunikation
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 570 400



Back to Overview

Press release

08.03.2014

Charité Physicians Treating Yulia Timoschenko

Back to Overview

You are here:

Julia Timoschenko mit Prof. Karl Max Einhäupl (Vorstandsvorsitzender der Charité) und den behandelnden Ärzten (v.l.n.r. Dr. Anett Reißhauer, Prof. Nobert Haas, Prof. Matthias Endres, Prof. Peter Vajkoczy)
Julia Timoschenko mit Prof. Karl Max Einhäupl (Vorstandsvorsitzender der Charité) und den behandelnden Ärzten (v.l.n.r. Dr. Anett Reißhauer, Prof. Nobert Haas, Prof. Matthias Endres, Prof. Peter Vajkoczy), Foto: Charité / Stephan Baumann (http://baumannstephan.com)

Since February 2012, physicians from the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin have been examining and treating Yulia Timoschenko in Kharkiv, Ukraine. The Charité has also offered to ensure follow-up treatment of their patient here in Germany. Yulia Timoschenko has since arrived in Berlin and physicians at the Charité have already started to treat her.

Immediately after her arrival, the team of Charité physicians started their examinations and ordered the preliminary therapeutic measures. Prof. Dr. Karl Max Einhäupl, the Charité's Board Chairman and a neurologist stated "Yulia Timoschenko is doing as well as can be expected given the circumstances resulting from her history of herniated disks and vertebral joint inflammation. We will now determine the best therapy for her back pain."

The team of physicians reported that her pain symptoms will initially be treated conservatively with analgesics. Starting today, Yulia Timoschenko is also receiving physical therapy.

Over the days to come, specialists in the fields of orthopedics, physical medicine, neurology, in addition to neurosurgery and neuroradiology will be carrying out further diagnostic and therapeutic measures. At  the appropriate time, Charité's medical experts will decide whether or not the patient will require surgery.

Downloads

Contact

Uwe Dolderer
Head of Corporate Communications Business Division
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 570 400



Back to Overview

Press release

24.04.2014

Helping Nerve Fibers to Navigate

Back to Overview

You are here:

Charité researchers identify molecules that can steer nerve fiber growth

How do nerve fibers know where to grow and with which of the approximately hundred billion nerve cells of the brain they need to form connections? Scientists at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin have taken us a step further towards addressing this question by identifying two molecules that control nerve fiber navigation during development of the brain. The results of their study are published in the current issue of Nature Communications*.

The brain is responsible for executing extremely complex tasks like processing sensory information, decision-making and generating speech and language. The neocortex, which forms the outermost part of the brain, is primarily involved in carrying out these higher brain functions. Nerve fibers form connections between the nerve cells (neurons) of the cerebral cortex and serve to link various regions of the nervous system with each other allowing for the exchange of neural information. Neurons of the neocortex, mainly, form two different types of connections; inter-hemispheric tracts like the corpus callosum, which connects the right hemisphere with the left hemisphere and sub-cortical tracts, which connects the neocortex to underlying structures such as the spinal cord.

Scientists working together with Prof. Dr. Victor Tarabykin, Acting Director of the Institute of Cell Biology and Neurobiology at the Campus Charité Mitte and Principal Investigator for the "Cluster of Excellence - Neurocure" at the Charité, have succeeded in decoding a molecular program, which controls how such connections are made. The team of scientists has established that, two proteins Satb2 and Ctip2 are capable of regulating the choice of a neocortical neuron to either connect through the corpus callosum or to connect to sub-cortical structures such as the spinal cord. They do so by regulating the levels of two other proteins called Unc5C and DCC. Unc5C and DCC in turn make the growing nerve fiber respond differently to the levels of another protein called Netrin1 present in the environment just below the neocortex.

"During the development phase, nascent axons respond to chemical signals, referred to as guidance cues, located in their immediate environment. These guidance cues can either exert a force of attraction that prompts the axons to grow towards the source, or they can have a repulsive effect and prevent axons from entering the area", explain Swathi Srivatsa and Srinivas Parthasarathy, the two lead authors in the study. "We have demonstrated that Satb2 and Ctip2 proteins function as molecular switches, which can help to steer the nerve fibers in a specific direction. The nerve fibers of Satb2 producing neurons also produce Unc5C, which is repelled by netrin1. These axons hence move away from the netrin1 source and in doing so form the corpus callosum. On the other hand the neurons producing Ctip2 also produce DCC, which is attracted to the netrin1 source. These nerve fibers hence move towards the region below the neocortex forming sub-cortical tracts."

 

 

Srivatsa S, Parthasarathy S, Britanova O, Bormuth I, Donahoo AL, Ackerman SL, Richards LJ, Tarabykin V. Unc5C and DCC act downstream of Ctip2 and Satb2 and contribute to corpus callosum formation. Nat Commun. 2014 Apr 17;5:3708. doi:10.1038/ncomms4708.

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterInstitut für Zell- und Neurobiologie - Forschung

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterNeurocure

Contact

Prof. Dr. Victor Tarabykin
Kommissarischer Direktor Institut für Zell- und Neurobiologie
Campus Charité Mitte
t: +49 30 450 528 418



Back to Overview

Press release

30.04.2014

Vaccine Against Leishmaniasis

Back to Overview

You are here:

Scientists develop vaccination against a parasitic infectious disease

In cooperation with an international research team, scientists at the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin have developed a vaccine that protects against leishmaniasis, a global infectious disease occurring in humans and animals caused by single-cell parasites of the genus Leishmania. The results of the study have been published in the recent edition of the professional journal Science Translational Medicine*.

Leishmaniases are a group of parasitic infectious disease, which are transmitted by sand flies. The affected geographical regions include tropical and subtropical zones, the Mediterranean basin, as well as certain areas of Asia. Approximately two million people are infected each year. The pathogens live in the cells of their hosts, which protects them from being attacked by the 'key players' of the host's immune system - the antibodies. The development of a vaccination against leishmaniasis has proved very difficult to date, largely because the mode of action of most vaccines is to inactivate the pathogens with the help of antibodies.

In the present study, the scientists were able to demonstrate that immunity against leishmaniasis depends on T cells rather than by antibodies. T cells belong to the white blood cells and, like antibodies, are also components of the immune system. Whenever a cell is attacked by a pathogen it transports fragments of the intruder's proteins to its surface. These fragments are detected by the T cells, which destroy the diseased cell together with its intruder. "The efficacy of the newly developed vaccination against the leishmaniasis parasite is based on the activation of T cells, while conventional vaccination techniques have generally relied on antibodies", says Prof. Peter Walden, Head of the Tumor Immunology Research Group of Charité's Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Allergology.

The scientists initially analyzed the genetic material of different antigens in various species of leishmaniasis parasites of different endemic regions. They then examined the reactions of T cells in the blood of patients who were able to overcome the infection against these antigens. Based on the data obtained from both analyses, the researchers then developed effective antigens for the vaccine. "Our goal was to filter out antigens for the vaccine that are not varies in the leishmaniasis parasites and that are able to effectively trigger T cell reactions in the infected individuals", explained Prof. Walden.

The tolerability and efficacy of the vaccine was initially demonstrated in mice. Clinical studies are now planned as the next step in this project. If the vaccine is also effective in humans, it may bring about a fundamental change in the way scientists approach vaccine development.

*Shantanabha Das, Anja Freier, Thouraya Boussoffara, Sushmita Das, Detlef Oswald, Florian O. Losch, Melanie Selka, Nina Sacerdoti-Sierra, Gabriele Schönian, Karl-Heinz Wiesmüller, Karin Seifert, Matthias Schroff, Christiane Juhls, Charles L. Jaffe, Syamal Roy, Pradeep Das, Hechmi Louzir, Simon L. Croft, Farrokh Modabber, Peter Walden: Modular Multiantigen T Cell Epitope–Enriched DNA Vaccine Against Human Leishmaniasis. In: Science Translational Medicine, 30 April 2014, Vol 6 Issue 234.

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterKlinik für Dermatologie, Venerologie und Allergologie

Contact

Prof. Peter Walden
Leiter der Forschungsgruppe Tumorimmunologie
Klinik für Dermatologie, Venerologie und Allergologie
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 518 031



Back to Overview

Press release

14.07.2014

Ancestral Remains Repatriated to Australia

Back to Overview

You are here:

The CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin today returned fourteen further ancestral remains to representatives of the indigenous communities of Australia. The official ceremony was attended by officials from Australia and Germany, representatives of the indigenous communities, the Australian Embassy and the Charité.

Fulfilling their role as 'traditional owners', the representatives of the Goemulgal and the Wajarri Yamatji officially accepted the remains of their ancestors which they will now proceed to bury in ancestral territory. Addressing the audience, Prof. Dr. Karl Max Einhäupl, Chairman of the Charité Executive Board, explained that "The Charité is committed to ensuring that ancestral remains that were most probably collected in the name of scientific research can now be returned to their 'traditional owners'. In doing so, the Charité reiterates its commitment to the ongoing repatriation process"

In 2008, the Charité was the first science institution in Germany to sign a repatriation agreement with Australia. However, before the repatriation process could commence, the exact origins of the remains had to first be established. As a result, between 2010 -2013 the DFG-funded “Charité Human Remains Project” was able to investigate and ascertain the provenance of the remains in question as well as establishing the historical context in which the collection of 'skulls and skeletal parts' made their way to Berlin and to the Charité. The project was supervised by Dr. Andreas Winkelmann, a teaching coordinator and lecturer at the Charité Department of Anatomy, and Prof. Dr. Thomas Schnalke, Director of the Berlin Museum of Medical History at the Charité.

The fourteen ancestral remains handed over today originate from two regions of Australia. Thirteen of the remains in question stem from the Torres Strait Islands. In addition, one skull was excavated by a German engineer in Western Australia. This most probably took place in the year 1891 or 1892.

At the first hand-over ceremony held in April 2013, the Charité returned skulls and ancestral remains of thirty-three persons to the indigenous communities of Australia. Today’s handover ceremony is the fifth occasion on which the Charité has handed over ancestral remains from its anthropological collections to the victims’ countries of origin. In addition to Australia (2013 and 2014), remains have also been repatriated to Namibia (2011 and 2014) and to Paraguay (2012).

 

 

Links

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterAnatomie

Öffnet externen Link im aktuellen FensterDFG-Projekt

 

 

Contact

Privatdozent Dr. Andreas Winkelmann
Teaching Coordinator Anatomy
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 570 400



Back to Overview

Press release

01.08.2014

New Mechanism Discovered to Regulate Protein Biosynthesis

Back to Overview

You are here:

Scientists at the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin have discovered a regulatory mechanism that impacts the production of proteins. This mechanism, which exists in higher organisms only, could serve to broaden the scope of antibiotics. The results obtained by the researchers have been published in the current edition of the science journal Cell*.

In evolutionary-biological terms, ribosomes are among the oldest enzymes. Such macromolecular complexes consist of two subunits that can rotate against each other. They are responsible for the production of all proteins in all cells of every organism. In the context of translation ─ i.e. the protein-forming process ─ the genetic code of the protein, so-called messenger RNA (ribonucleic acid), is transcribed at the interface between both subunits of the ribosome. The proteins are then formed from amino acids in a chain-like manner.

Together with other scientists from the Charité's Institute of Medical Physics and Biophysics, Dr. Tatyana Budkevich examined different states of ribosomes on the basis of cryo-electron microscopy. In this method, the ribosomes are rapidly frozen in order to preserve their original properties. On the basis of numerous two-dimensional projection images taken from different directions, it was possible to reconstruct and visualize the three-dimensional structure of the ribosome with the aid of computer-supported image-processing techniques. In this way the scientists were able to identify a new regulatory mechanism that is triggered by a change in ribosomal architecture. Here, both subunits of the ribosome roll against each other in such a way that a cleft is opened precisely at the location where the amino acids bind to the ribosome. This opening simplifies the binding of the amino acids to the ribosome and may help to improve the speed and precision of protein production. However, this mechanism appears to exist solely in nucleated cells, the so-called eukaryotic cells:

According to Dr. Tatyana Budkevich: "Our results demonstrate that despite the similarities existing between bacterial ribosomes and eukaryotes, in the decisive functional steps they differ from one another more significantly than anticipated. Eukaryotic ribosomes apparently possess an additional mode of inter-subunit rotation." Such differences are particularly important in the development of new antibiotics. Only at those points where human ribosomes are found to differ from bacterial ribosomes, is it possible for drug substances to take effect without causing severe adverse reactions in humans. "The identified regulatory mechanism, i.e. the opening between the subunits of the ribosome, could provide the kind of precise differentiation that is required in the production of more selective medications" said Dr. Budkevich.

*Budkevich TV, Giesebrecht J, Behrmann E, Loerke J, Ramrath DJ, MielkeT, Ismer J, HildebrandPW, Tung CS, Nierhaus KH, Sanbonmatsu KY, SpahnCM . Regulation of the mammalian elongation cycle by ribosomal subunit rolling: a eukaryotic-specific conformational change. Cell 2014 Jul 3. Doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.04.044.

Links

Opens external link in current windowInstitute of Medical Physics and Biophysics

http://biophysik.charite.de/institut/

Contact

Dr. Tatyana Budkevich
Institute of Medical Physics and Biophysics
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 524 145



Back to Overview

Press release

19.08.2014

Press Statement: Suspected case of Ebola in Berlin not confirmed

Back to Overview

You are here:

Results of Ebola Blood Test Announced

All tests carried out to detect the Ebola virus in a female patient who presented yesterday to the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin were negative. Soon after admission to the Infectious Disease Ward, microscopic tests revealed the presence of a malarial infection and the appropriate treatment was subsequently initiated. “The patient is doing well under the circumstances”, according to Prof. Dr. Norbert Suttorp, Medical Department Director, Division of Infectiology and Pneumonology (including Pneumonological Oncology) of the Charité.

Contact

Manuela Zingl
Deputy Press Spokesperson
Corporate Communications Division
CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 570 400



Back to Overview

Press release

20.08.2014

How Sensory Systems Integrate Mobile Phone Signals

Back to Overview

You are here:

Scientists at CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin have recently discovered how sensory organs perceive and process the simultaneous ringing, vibrating and flashing generated by mobile phones. When simultaneously confronted with acoustic, tactile, and visual stimuli, people tend to react more rapidly to incoming calls and text messages. The results of this study have been published in the current edition of the scientific journal Plos One*.

As soon as an incoming call or text message arrives, modern smart phones ring, vibrate and flash. Users are confronted with numerous and various simultaneous stimuli, which the individual human sensory systems must register and process. So just how does the brain access the information coming from auditory, visual or tactile systems? Are the various bits of information that enter the different sensory organs processed independently of each other or do they merge at some point? In the field of neuroscience this latter case is called multisensory integration. 

For the first time, the research group led by Prof. Dr. Daniel Senkowski from the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the Charité Campus Mitte has carried out scientific investigations to determine whether acoustic, tactile, and visual stimuli produced by mobile phones are integrated in a multisensory manner. In this experimental study, the subjects were given cell phones which either rang, vibrated, or flashed, or produced a combination of these various sensory stimuli. The study subjects were asked to react to each individual stimulus by touching the display as rapidly as possible.

The results show that the study subjects reacted significantly faster to stimuli that impacted all three senses simultaneously, than to each individual stimulus targeting just one of these senses. “Our findings suggest that our sensory systems process and integrate the different mobile phone signals. The multisensory integration of such signals enables us to react more rapidly to incoming calls”, explains Prof. Senkowski. In addition to accelerating behavioral performance, the findings indicate that multisensory stimulation also increases the potential risk for distracting effects. “For example, when driving an automobile, the simultaneous ringing, vibrating, and flashing produced by a smartphone can significantly distract drivers from concentrating on the traffic. In such situations where close concentration is absolutely required, it is thus preferable to not stimulate the various sensory organs simultaneously, but rather with one signal at a time”, emphasized Prof. Senkowski.

*Pomper U, Brincker J, Harwood J, Prikhodko I, Senkowski D. Taking a call is facilitated by the multisensory processing of smartphone vibrations, sounds, and flashes. Plos One 2014 August 12. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0103238

Links

Opens external link in current windowMultisensory Integration Research Group Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy

Opens external link in current windowLink to the article

Contact

Prof. Dr. Daniel Senkowski
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
Campus Charité Mitte
t: +49 30 231 127 38



Back to Overview