27 March 2023, by Newsroom editorial office
Prof. Dr. Florian Grüner, science senator Katharina Fegebank, Prof. Dr. Jetta Frost (vice president, Universität Hamburg), Dr. Bakr Fadl (head of the University’s Knowledge Exchange Agency), and Dr. Theresa Staufer at the event in Science City Bahrenfeld.
To treat many diseases, it is vital to understand the exact nature of immune cells. A research team headed by Prof. Dr. Florian Grüner at Universität Hamburg has now developed an innovative imaging method that enables direct examination of these cells. On 27 March, the results from the cooperation with the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf were presented at Science City Bahrenfeld.
For the first time, the newly developed method of measurement can gather data that had thus far remained unavailable for diagnostic purposes. Now, using X-Ray sources, the distribution of immune cells (among other things) towards immune responses can be be studied, thereby also contributing to the clarification of the causes of chronic inflammatory diseases. The findings could significantly facilitate the development of new treatments and the optimization of well-established treatments, also and especially for cancer.
The use of the new imaging procedure is very promising, as well, for the tracking of nanoparticles, first deployed for the Covid vaccine, but which are also highly relevant in cancer treatment. This is why, among other reasons, the researchers are aiming to patent the procedure. Another important factor: the method has thus far been used only at large particle accelerators, like the electron-synchrotron at DESY. With the innovative development of a new kind of laboratory system, the procedure can be used with little difficulty in the future, also making it especially suitable for use in the Global South. To this end, cooperation with partners in science and industry is currently being forged.
Directly testing innovative ideas
In the research project, the team headed by Prof. Dr. Florian Grüner, professor of accelerator physics in the Department of Physics at Universität Hamburg, is working closely with colleagues from the UKE. The program Calls for Transfer, run by Hamburg’s science office, contributed €30,000 towards the essential strategy whereby basic research is transferred directly to society at large.
This was already the second time Prof. Grüner has received this kind of funding. The physicist explained: “Innovation is based very strongly on simply being able to test completely new ideas. But normally, you need to have already done initial work that you can point to for grant applications. And if you have a completely new, potentially innovative idea that you want to test, that’s a problem. The Calls for Transfer funding has now made this possible.” Now, he continued, they can build upon their first testing successes.
Support on the path to practical application
The Calls for Transfer funding program financed by Hamburg’s science office and run by the Hamburg University of Technology has been strengthening ideas relevant to knowledge exchange and research-based and economically promising concepts since 2018. The format lends support for the development of innovative projects at all of Hamburg’s public universities, smoothing the way towards practical application for creative solutions from all subject areas. So far, 118 projects have received €30,000 each for their start and further development.