Protein Biomarker Unit

Protein Biomarker Unit
© Fraunhofer IZI

The Protein Biomarker Unit focuses on the identification and validation of proteins to be used as diagnostic biomarkers or representing therapeutic targets. Moreover, the unit aims at the development of single and multiplex assays for their detection. Multi-omics strategies (especially LC-MS based proteomics) are applied for identification. ELISA, western blot, and peptide or bead arrays (Luminex) are utilized for validation. High-affinity monoclonal antibodies, which are usually developed in the group, are key tools for these immunochemical assays.

Prof. Dr. Stefan Kalkhof also holds the research professorship for the master degree program Bioanalytics at the Coburg University for applied science and arts. This synergy enables the identification and characterization of relevant biomarkers by mass spectrometry, which are then validated in the Department of Therapy Validation using antibody-based techniques and prepared for clinical application.

LowAllergen / FoodAllergen – Detection of plant-derived allergenic protein structures with subsequent modification and testing for the successful reduction of allergenic potential through analytical methods

The frequency of newly developed food allergies (incidence) is increasing worldwide. At the same time, a rise in non-conventional food ingredients – particularly plant-based ingredients – has been registered, following the modern trend of resource-conscious food. This trend has also been noted by European directives with the purpose of making consumers aware of the risk of allergies as well as protecting them from the consequences of allergies (LMIV). As a result, the demand for reliable methods to analyze allergenic ingredients as well as for the technology to reduce allergenic ingredients has grown significantly over the past few years.

The "LowAllergen" project and its follow-up project, "FoodAllergen", are concerned with plant-based allergenic food ingredients. One part of the project is geared towards changing proteins to the extent that their allergenic potential is decreased. The requirements for this are innovative technologies for modifying proteins which are developed in our partner institute Fraunhofer IVV. As part of the “Food Allergen” project, the Protein Biomarker Unit is responsible for developing antibody-based test systems which enable a quantitative analysis of allergenic ingredients and reveal any remaining allergenic potential after applying allergen-reducing procedures. Using soy as an example, in the "LowAllergen" project, a decrease of allergenic components could be observed as a result of applying certain microorganisms in fermentation processes and hydrolysis using high pressure. In the "FoodAllergen" project, the processes and analytical methods will be expanded to other plant-based protein ingredients to implement technologies for modifying allergens as well as analytical methods for detecting successful reduction of allergens as soon as possible.

Project manager
Dr. Elke Ueberham

Development of new on-farm processes for testing health and fertility in German Holstein cattle

The joint project aims towards creating new innovative processes for testing the performance of German Holstein cattle with respect to fertility and health, to be recorded directly on the breeding farms (on-farm). Breeding processes were established based on previously defined key characteristics. The goal of the project is to determine and use breeding-related parameters for fat mobilization dynamics, female fertility and health characteristics, based on a partially automatic infrared image analysis for inflammatory markers on limbs and udders, as well as a partially automatic analysis of immunological parameters in the milk. The part of the project conducted at Fraunhofer IZI involves selecting immunological parameters in 10 animals, validating these immunological parameters in 100 animals, and developing and validating laboratory tests for immunological parameters for bulk investigation and field validation of the tests on 3 selected farms. In the meantime, a cellular biomarker (CD25 in neutrophilic granulocytes) and two protein biomarkers have been identified and validated. Verification assays have been developed for both protein biomarkers and are currently in the evaluation phase.

Project manager
Anke Hoffmann, Dr. Jörg Lehmann

Completed projects

  • Project "Bronchial Carcinoma" as part of the BMBF program "Innovative Regional Growth Cores", "GC Potential" module

Immunoreactivity, sensory and physicochemical properties of fermented soy protein isolate
Meinlschmidt P, Ueberham E, Lehmann J, Schweiggert-Weisz U, Eisner P.
Food Chemistry. 2016 Aug 15;205:229-38.
doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2016.03.016. Epub 2016 Mar 8.

Combination of two epitope identification techniques enables the rational design of soy allergen Gly m 4 mutant
Havenith H, Kern K, Rautenberger P, Spiegel H, Szardenings M, Ueberham E, Lehmann J, Buntru M, Vogel S, Treudler R, Fischer R, Schillberg S.
Biotechnol J. 2016 Dec 1,
doi: 10.1002/biot.201600441. [Epub ahead of print]


High pressure processing assisted enzymatic hydrolysis - an innovative approach for the reduction of soy immunoreactivity.
Meinlschmidt P, Brode V, Sevenich R, Ueberham E, Schweiggert-Weisz U, Lehmann J, Rauh D, Knorr D, Eisner P.
Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies 2016 July 1


Application of nonthermal technologies for the mitigation of soy immunoreactivity – pulsed ultraviolet light, -
irradiation, and nonthermal atmospheric plasma.
Meinlschmidt P, Ueberham E, Lehmann J, Reineke K, Schlüter O, Eisner P, Schweiggert-Weisz U, Knorr D.
Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies 2016


Increase of CD25 expression on bovine neutrophils correlates with disease severity in post-partum and early lactating dairy cows. 
Zoldan K, Moellmer T, Schneider J, Fueldner C, Knauer J, Lehmann J.
Dev Comp Immunol. 2014 Aug 11;47(2):254-263. doi: 10.1016/j.dci.2014.08.002. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 25106916


Co-transplantation of human hematopoietic stem cells and human breast cancer cells in NSG mice: a novel approach to generate tumor cell specific human antibodies.
Wege AK, Schmidt M, Ueberham E, Ponnath M, Ortmann O, Brockhoff G, Lehmann J.
MAbs. 2014 Jul-Aug;6(4):968-77. doi: 10.4161/mabs.29111. Epub 2014 May 8.
PMID: 24870377


Identification and evaluation of novel synovial tissue biomarkers in rheumatoid arthritis by laser scanning cytometry.
Fueldner C, Mittag A, Knauer J, Biskop M, Hepp P, Scholz R, Wagner U, Sack U, Emmrich F, Tárnok A, Lehmann J.
Arthritis Res Ther. 2012 Jan 17;14(1):R8. doi: 10.1186/ar3682.
PMID: 22251373