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Prof. Dr. Dr. Ulrike Köhl
Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI
04103 Leipzig, Germany
Phone + 49 341 35536-9100
Usable area: 8,750m²
Employees: 428 (as at 2018 / 12 / 31)
Focal areas: cell engineering, cell therapy, active agents, diagnostics, immunology
Address: Perlickstraße 1, 04103 Leipzig, Germany
Fraunhofer IZI was founded at its current headquarters in Leipzig on 29 April 2005. Construction work on the institute's first own building began back in 2006 and the building was put into operation in 2008. The two extension buildings were opened in 2013 and 2015, with the research infrastructure expanding accordingly.
The cost of installing the research infrastructure was shared by the European Union, the Federal Republic of Germany, the State of Saxony and the City of Leipzig and well as the Leipzig Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer.
Leipzig is first and foremost home to the business units Cell and Gene Therapy, Drugs, and Diagnostics. The following departments are based in Leipzig:
The laboratory capacities in Leipzig are predominantly equipped for conducting molecular and cell-biological work. All laboratory suites meet the S2 safety level and are qualified for conducting work in the fields of genetics and infection biology. Fraunhofer IZI also has a total of three state-of-the-art clean-room facilities (approx. 1000 m²) that are suitable for the GMP-compliant manufacture of cell-based and antibody-based biopharmaceutical products.
Various special facilities complement the research infrastructure. These include, among other things, an S3 laboratory suite, an isotope laboratory, an immunohistochemistry laboratory, various areas for experimental medicine and quality control laboratories. Furthermore, key facilities such as the GLP test facility, the Center for Experimental Medicine, extensive imaging technologies, a biomarker center and a laboratory for nanotechnology applications are also located in Leipzig.
The Bioanalytics and Bioprocesses Branch in Potsdam-Golm was affiliated with the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology on July 1, 2014. The site was initially founded in 2005 as a branch of the Fraunhofer IBMT and has since worked on technological solutions for biomedicine and diagnostics as well as for biotechnology and bioproduction.
The interdisciplinary team comprising natural scientists, engineers and technicians develops powerful, analytical methods for the detection and validation of pathogens and biological markers besides processes to obtain, handle and manipulate cells and biomolecules. In this context, the team develops applications for personalized medicine, as well as biosensors and detection procedures for the areas of agriculture and the environment, for a broad spectrum of substance classes.
The site has the state-of-the-art infrastructure required for miniaturizing and automating biological processes. This includes various biosensor and biochip technologies, pipetting robots and micro and nano-dispensers, besides many different rapid-prototyping procedures.
A further special feature of the branch‘s facilities is the life culture collection of cryophilic algae (CCCryo), which serves as a resource for developing production processes for novel, industrial bioproducts.
Usable area: 1,300m²
Employees: 62 (as at 2018 / 12 / 31)
Focal areas: biochemisty, pharmacology, drug development, analytics
Address: Weinbergweg 22, 06120 Halle (Saale), Germany
The Department of Drug Design and Target Validation in Halle develops new molecular strategies for the treatment of neurodegenerative and inflammatory diseases. Staff at the off-site department have extremely comprehensive expertise in industrial, pharma-relevant research.
This primarily includes the identification of new drug targets by analysing potential pathological post-translational modifications, misfolding of proteins as well as their pathological aggregations. "Small molecules" and biological drugs ("biologicals") are developed and tested from the resulting, new treatment concepts. This activity is accompanied by the development of testing procedures for the identification and diagnostic application of biomarkers, which allow the progression of diseases and treatments to be monitored. Besides this, the department also has the necessary expertise to create pharmacologically relevant in-vitro and in-vivo models.
Alongside modern peptide synthesis and protein analytics methods (MALDI-TOF and LC-MS), the off-site department has also developed a wide-ranging spectrum of biophysical methods for characterising therapeutically relevant physiological metabolic pathways, whose key proteins as well as cell-based and pharmacological models are used to characterise innovative chemical and biological drugs.
Usable area: 700m²
Employees: 27 (as at 2018 / 12 / 31)
Focal areas: organ-supporting technologies, clinical trials
Address: Schillingallee 68, 18057 Rostock, Germany
The focus of the Department of Extracorporeal Immunomodulation in Rostock is on the development and evaluation of organ-supporting technologies outside the body (extracorporeal), with a particular emphasis on supporting the immune system.
The department offers the full range of preclinical and clinical analyses of extracorporeal technologies based on a broad spectrum of in-vitro simulations, small and large animal models as well as a powerful clinical study network for in- and outpatients. Moreover, the department offers self-developed, unique analytic and diagnostic devices including an ex-situ intestine model, a cell sensor and novel protein assays.
The Translational Cell Therapy off-site unit develops and validates cell-based advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs). To do this, it conducts translational research and develops GMP-compliant manufacturing protocols for cell therapeutics at the interface to preclinical development right through to their transfer into clinical trials. Cell and genetic engineering methods and strategies are implemented and optimized here to specifically manufacture killer lymphocytes and their subpopulations. The ability to overcome so-called tumor immune escape mechanisms in cancer cells is key here. This is achieved by using activated and genetically modified effector cells together with checkpoint inhibitors and stimulating immune cells. These cell therapies boost immune surveillance and strengthen the elimination of resistant cancer cells as well as their malignant precursor cells (so-called tumor stem cells). Another focus of development lies in optimizing the transduction capacity of effector cells using chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) in order to increase cytotoxicity to malignant cells. To do this, human effector cells are separated following lymphapheresis by means of GMP-suitable, fully automated, closed-system production, genetically modified as necessary and expanded as part of clinical upscaling. Moreover, the group is developing GMP-compliant manufacturing and expansion protocols in order to proliferate a sufficient number of activated effector cells.
The Microelectronic and Optical Systems for Biomedicine project center in Erfurt brings together the core competencies of three Fraunhofer institutes to span the disciplines of biosciences, microelectronics, microsystems technology, optics and photonics. This combined expertise will be used to develop application-ready systems in the areas of medical engineering, analytics, diagnostics, biotechnology, biophotonics, pharma, health care, ageing and food economics which will then be transferred into industry. Fields of application here include improved medical imaging and visualization as well as technologies for biomarker analysis.
Involved Fraunhofer Institutes:
Usable area: 2000m²
The founding team at Fraunhofer IZI started looking for suitable Canadian cooperation partners back in 2011. On the back of these efforts, initial joint research projects were set up with McMaster University in Hamilton (Ontario, Canada). With approximately 29,000 students, the university is one of the leading universities in Canada, with exceptional strengths in the fields of health sciences, engineering and natural sciences.
Based on the success of ongoing cooperation projects, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft took the decision in 2014 to set up a Fraunhofer Project Center (FPC) at McMaster University. Governed by a cooperation agreement, the FPC is jointly managed by experienced McMaster and Fraunhofer managers and is devoted to applied research in the business units Diagnostics, Automation, Cell Therapeutics and Biomaterials. In setting up the FPC, both partners aim to collectively develop innovative products and technologies by combining specific technological strengths from both sides, and to gain even more access to the North American niche market. In addition, the FPC helps establish German and Canadian companies and supports the development of business activities in the respective partner country.
In the first few months after being established, the project center already managed to attract significant funding on both the German and Canadian sides, as well as a series of industry cooperation projects including FedDev funding in the sum of approx. 12 million Canadian dollars for the construction of a joint research building in McMaster Innovation Park, which was opened in spring 2018. The new research building offers a state-of-the-art research infrastructure covering an area of approx. 1,900 m².
Since 2010, Fraunhofer IZI has maintained a close cooperation with Chonnam National University Hospital Hwasun (CNUHH) in several areas. With 700 beds, the CNUHH is one of the largest university hospitals specialized in the treatment of cancer in South Korea. A vibrant biotech and medtech industry has established itself in the local area.
The JLCI facilitates the collaboration with external partners from academia and industry in Asia. For example the Fraunhofer IZI’s ligand development group is using the regular access to fresh tumor materials from patients to identify tumor binding peptides, which already have been validated in tumor models.
The laboratory management is oriented at the standards and rules of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. This shall guarantee a common basis when dealing with patents and contractual matters.
The JLCI was financed until 2017 by the Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in Gwangju, Jeollanam-do, South Korea, as part of an initiative to strengthen international cooperation. Since 2018, additional funds have been authorized by the provincial government of Jeollanam do and the district of Hwasun gun in order to facilitate stronger connections within the industry and with other research institutes in Korea and Germany through professional business development.
Various projects have been conducted to date at the JLCI, e.g. in the field of senescence and cancer research, also as part of funding measures associated with the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology’s Central Innovation Program for SMEs. Several Fraunhofer IZI delegations have already taken part in conferences and research stays in Korea and a number of Korean colleagues have also worked at Fraunhofer IZI. The joint research work is documented in many joint publications. German-Korean symposiums have so far taken place on an annually rotating basis.