Given the constant increase in the world’s population and the decline in fossil raw material reserves, the recovery of renewable raw materials is one of the key issues for the future. However, the aim is not only to fulfill long-term energy demand through the use of alternative, renewable, climate-friendly energy sources. Substances known as aromatics, which have been produced from oil up to now, are needed for the manufacture of thousands of everyday materials and are found, in drugs, coloring agents, plastics, and epoxy resins, among other things. And although it is possible to obtain these crucial synthesis components from wood, the conversion of wood into aromatic compounds was thus far only possible under technically sophisticated and uneconomic conditions. Researchers from the Max Planck Institut (MPI) für Kohlenforschung have now developed a method, with the help of which aromatics from wood can be made available for use as raw materials in a simple and cost-effective way.
Image: Laboratory process for the isolation of lignin from wood
U.S. company Sundance Diagnostics has licensed genetic markers from Max Planck Innovation that predict suicide risk when antidepressant drugs are prescribed. The new test, based on research carried out at the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry, should help doctors to decrease the risk of suicidality in patients treated with antidepressants who show certain gene markers.
Image: DNA microarrays are used for diagnostics and to study the expression of genes. A further application is that of genome analysis.
© MPI of Psychiatry
The development of a new and improved tuberculosis vaccine is on the way! The Serum Institute of India has licensed patents for a promising vaccine, originally developed in Germany, and are now planning to introduce it into the clinical setting. Studies have shown that the new vaccine is more effective and better tolerated than currently available options. By signing a contract with the Hannover-based Vakzine Projekt Management GmbH (VPM), Serum, one of the World’s leading vaccine manufacturers, has effectively secured the license to the various patents and technologies related to the new vaccine.
Picture: Bacteria of the attenuated tuberculosis vaccine strain (BCG) inside a macrophage, a scavenger cell of the immune system.
Courtesy: MPI for Infection Biology – CF Microscopy / Volker Brinkmann Continue reading
Cyclophilines are enzymes that help proteins in the human body to take on the right shape; only then can proteins fulfill their function in the cells. However, several of these “protein folding helpers” can also lead to inflammatory reactions in the body. Although previous therapies using cyclosporin inhibit inflammatory processes, they also severely weaken the immune system. At the Lead Discovery Center (LDC) and the Max Planck Research Unit for Enzymology of Protein Folding cyclosporin derivatives were developed which make it possible to address only disease-related cyclophilines and to inhibit them. Thereby the inflammation is inhibited without weakening the immune system. The new derivatives could thus represent a new treatment option for diseases such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).Picture: The enzyme cyclophilin
Certain materials are known to generate an electric potential when exposed to a temperature gradient (Seebeck effect) and a temperature difference when a voltage is applied (Peltier effect).
A lot of sources of waste heat are suitable for generating electrical power using such thermoelectric materials. On the other hand, there is a need to provide electrically operated cooling devices without moving parts. Therefore, there is great interest in devising thermoelectric materials with significantly higher efficiency than is currently available.
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces have developed a simple and robust label-free screening technique using soft colloidal probes (SCP) as sensors. The invention is based on measuring the deformation of the SCPs while being in contact with specific substances and can be used in the fields of medical diagnostics and drug screening.
Picture: A ligand functionalized probe binds to the receptor on the substrate surface. It is deformed depending on the analyte concentration and affinity, which can be determined by the RICM images. The dark area in the center corresponds to the contact area.
According to the WHO, the number of cancer deaths worldwide is still on the rise, with 13.1 million deaths predicted in 2030. Up to 90% of cancer deaths are thought to be due to metastasis. So far, there is no effective treatment available for metastasis, and there are only very few projects under development. A new Axl kinase inhibitor addresses a severe unmet medical need: The Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB), the Lead Discovery Center GmbH (LDC) and Qurient Co., Ltd have entered into a license agreement providing Qurient with world-wide, exclusive rights to a new kinase inhibitor for the treatment of metastatic cancer.
Picture: Research at the LDC (© LDC)
Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease. Approximately seven million people suffer from diabetes in Germany of which 90% suffer from type 2 diabetes. The main characteristic of type 2 diabetes is a resistance to insulin. During the course of the disease, this insulin resistance can severely damage vital organs and can even lead to death. The Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine developed a new procedure based on the administration of Conkunitzin-S1, a natural neurotoxin derived from the venom of the cone snail Conus striatus. Conkunitzin-S1 enables the regulation of blood sugar levels. Thereby, the neurotoxin constitutes a promising approach for treating type 2 diabetes.
Max Planck Innovation, the technology transfer organization of the Max Planck Society together with the Patent Marketing Agency of Saarland Universities have licensed a new method for processing digital stereo image content to TandemLaunch Technologies, a Canada based company, which develops multimedia inventions into consumer technologies. The new “Backward-compatible Stereo 3D” technology makes it possible to watch movies in 3D, when wearing glasses, and 2D without glasses at the same time.
Picture: Backward-compatible stereo which introduces disparities only where they are needed. This allows content to be produced that appears almost ordinary to a viewer without stereo equipment and conveys a 3D impression when such equipment is used.
“Big Buck Bunny” © by Blender Foundation
Solar modules with no dust layer, clean windscreens, spectacles that never need to be cleaned – water-repellent surfaces that use the lotus effect and are self-cleaning can be used in a wide variety of applications. An invention by the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research now enables the production of transparent and stable surfaces on which water forms droplets that drip off and remove dirt particles in the process – with the help of so-called “raspberry particles”.