Functional Genome Analysis  (B070)
Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, Im Neuenheimer Feld 580
D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany.




Summary of Scientific Activities

     Functional Tumour Analyses
       - Pancreatic Cancer
       - Other Tumour Entities
       - Microenvirenmental Communication

     Transcript Studies
       - MicroRNA Diagnostics in Blood
       - MicroRNA-Based Regulation

       - Antibody Microarrays
       - Protein Microarrays
       - Cancer Studies
     DNA / RNA Technologies
     Molecular Epidemiology
     Synthetic Biology
       - Mirror-Image Biology
       - Protein Engineering

     DNA & RNA Methylation
       - RNA Methylation
       - Common Cancer Marker
       - Pancreatic Cancer Progression

      How to Find Us
      Open Positions
      Group Members
         - A Typical Day …

      Publications / Patents



Research at the division focuses on an analysis of the realisation and regulation of cellular function from genetic information. The investigation of tumour material is at the centre of attention, with an emphasis on pancreatic cancer. We complement the molecular analyses with functional studies for the elucidation of relevant cellular mechanisms and the identification and evaluation of potential therapeutic avenues.
Beside the creation of scientific and medical knowledge, we work at the development and refinement of appropriate methods and technologies. One aim in this respect is the establishment of means for an early and non-invasive molecular diagnosis, reliable patient stratification, and a precise monitoring of treatment results.
Particularly promising developments are ongoing in the field of proteome analysis. We have established affinity-based processes of a robustness and reproducibility that meet the requirements of clinical applications and are amendable to translation. A scientific goal is a quantitative description of protein interactions, in particular for the identification of variations that occur at a personal level. Another objective is is the creation of a map of the protein-mediated communication between the different cell types of the pancreatic tumour microenvironment. A third activity aims at the identification of disease-specific protein isoforms; structural variation is often an indicator for functional differences.
For a functional understanding, both targeted experiments and global studies are pursued. An example of the former is a detailed analysis of the activating effect on expression of methylation in gene promoters; for the latter, genome-wide shRNA knock-down or CRISPR-Cas mediated knockout studies and related over-expression analyses are performed.
Another line of work aims at the fully synthetic, in vitro implementation of complex biological processes. Motivation is their utilization in synthetic biology activities for the production of biomedically active molecules, such as non-immunogenic agents, and the establishment of an entirely artificial molecular system. Cell-free biosynthetic production will be crucial for mastering many biotechnological and pharmacochemical challenges. Artificial biological systems will complement Systems Biology by evaluating biological models experimentally. Similar to physics, insight into cellular function will be gained by an iterative process of performing experimental and theoretical Systems Biology. Eventually, this may lead to the establishment of a fully synthetic self-replicating system and, ultimately, an archetypical model of a cell.
Since recently, we are also active in the area of Molecular Epidemiology, with a particular emphasis on melanoma and breast cancer. Projects include studies of genetic or epigenetic variations through genotyping or sequencing of primary tumours to identify patients at risk of developing advanced disease.
Many projects are pursued in national and international collaborations and programmes. Apart from publications in scientific journals, the division filed a substantial number of patents, of which several have been licensed out or are being utilised in ongoing collaborations with commercial partners. Also, several companies have been spun-off, which utilise some of the results at a commercial level.

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