Black Forest Nanopore Meeting 2023 highlights major advances in nanopore research

Freiburg, Germany - November 17, 2023 - The Black Forest Nanopore Meeting (BFNM) 2023, organized by the Clusters4Future nanodiag BW from November 6-9 in Freiburg, Germany, has concluded as a success. The conference brought together almost 200 scientists and engineers from all over the world and from various disciplines who engaged in lively discussions. It became clear once again that single molecule sensing with nanopores will become a key diagnostic technology in the near future. For instance, nanopore technology offers a faster, cheaper and potentially more reliable way than current methods to detect post-translational modifications in proteins that are particularly important for epigenetic regulation, e.g. in cancer.  

Fruitful exchange between research and industry 

A focus of BFNM 2023 was the quest to use nanopores as sensors in proteomics: from the analysis of post-translational modifications to protein sequencing, another the seamless integration of nanopore technology into diagnostic workflows for personalized and precision medicine. The conference enabled an early exchange between the various disciplines required for the successful transfer of these approaches into clinical practice. Remarkable advances in research and technology transfer were presented. Around 40 lectures and more than 70 scientific posters brought together the latest results from around the world under the roof of the Friedrichsbau in Freiburg's city center and were complemented by an impressive Industrial Forum reflecting the state of commercial activities in this field. 

"The contributions at the meeting showed steady and sometimes staggering progress in all the disciplines and sub-specialities that come together in the field of nanopore research and make it such a variegated - and, frankly, entertaining - experience to be part of it," recapitulates Professor Jan C. Behrends, one of the spokespersons of nanodiag BW. "It was particularly impressive to see what is now possible with machine learning/AI, not only for signal processing and data mining, but also for signal prediction and the design and optimization of pores. Combining these new capabilities with new hardware and the ingenious assays we saw using both biological and solid-state pores will go a long way towards our common goal of nanopore proteomics." 

Apl. Prof. Dr. Felix von Stetten, also spokesperson of nanodiag BW, emphasized the collegial and stimulating atmosphere of the conference. The discussions among the researchers showed "the significant recent progress in the field of nanopore-based protein sequencing from both a scientific and commercial perspective. These tremendous advances make me very optimistic about the development of future applications in epigenetics and personalized medicine. I am pleased with the open exchange between participants from different disciplines, hierarchies and fields, including academia and industry. This conference has provided an exceptional opportunity to expand our knowledge across disciplines. I believe this is crucial for the successful translation of nanopore-based protein sequencing into commercial applications." 

Evening Lecture with Prof. Pfanner 

The evening lecture by Prof. Klaus Pfanner from Freiburg on "Mitochondrial transport mechanisms for preproteins" was considered one of the scientific highlights by the participants. 

“The special evening lecture by Klaus Pfanner was something to be particularly thankful for. We were given a compelling introduction –by a true master– to how nature organizes protein transport across membranes; something that is at the top of our minds these days”, said Jan C. Behrends. “The lively discussion afterwards and the feedback we got showed that we had called our shots correctly.“ 

Extensive supporting program 

An extensive social program was organized to promote exchange among the participants. The social dinner in the time-honored historic department store at Freiburg's Münstermarkt provided an extensive opportunity to strengthen personal connections, accompanied by Nina Behrends on the violoncello and Alász Demény on the piano. 

A trip to the historic Schauinsland silver mine, Freiburg's local mountain, was certainly a highlight for all "expedition participants". Detailed insights into the historical mining techniques provided an exciting contrast to the challenging presentations during the scientific sessions. 

Alternatively, the scientists were able to learn a lot of unexpected information about Freiburg's history during a guided tour of the city's old town. Insights into the "nuns' crypt" or the history of the cathedral, for example, cleared the minds for the next talks. 

The BFNM 2023 was considered a complete success by all participants. Nanodiag BW is therefore preparing to host another Black Forest Nanopore Meeting in the foreseeable future to continue the success and enthusiasm of this event.  

What is nanodiag BW? 

Nanopore technology offers a promising way to detect post-translational modifications in proteins faster and more reliably, especially in epigenetic research. The BMBF-funded nanodiag BW research cluster aims to turn these breakthroughs into ground-breaking diagnostic products, innovative services and high-growth start-ups to ultimately improve routine diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care for various diseases. 


Impressions from the BFNM 2023

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