The aim of the cluster is to better understand epigenetic factors influencing widespread diseases such as diabetes, cancer or cardiovascular diseases, to detect them earlier and to be able to treat them better. Such influencing factors lie outside the genetic material and can alter the effect of a gene and protein synthesis in such a way that cells can multiply unchecked or pathogens can penetrate a healthy cell more quickly. To clarify these issues, biosensors are needed to detect changes in individual molecules. Nanopores - channels on a molecular scale - are used in the cluster for this purpose. When individual biomolecules migrate into a pore, their electrical conductivity changes. This provides information about the type of biomolecule, its shape or sequence. Within the framework of nanodiag BW, for example, biomolecules are being researched at the Medical Center – University of Freiburg that can be used to assess the prospects of success of epigenetic or immune cancer therapy.
Cluster coordinator and Hahn-Schickard Institute director Professor Felix von Stetten feels encouraged. “The funding approval recognizes our mission as a non-university research institute to transfer technologies from basic university research into applications,” he says. “I am extremely pleased to be able to make a significant contribution together with all cluster stakeholders that will improve the health of citizens.” Co-coordinator Professor Jan C. Behrends from the Institute of Physiology at the University of Freiburg says, “Hahn-Schickard’s decision to make our nanopore technology a focus for the next few years inspired and excited us.” In addition to the latter, the Medical Center - University of Freiburg, the University of Stuttgart, two other institutes of the Innovationsallianz Baden-Württemberg, namely the NMI - Natural and Medical Sciences Institute Reutlingen and the Institute for Laser Technologies in Medicine and Metrology at the University of Ulm, as well as 17 companies from industry and other networks are involved in the cluster.
The Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts and the Ministry of Economics, Labor and Tourism Baden-Württemberg will support the cluster within the next three years with accompanying measures such as bridge professorships and junior research groups with 3.3 million euros.
On July 18, the BMBF announced the seven future clusters based on the recommendation of an independent and high-ranking jury of experts. The competition was organized in several stages: Initially, 15 finalists were selected from 117 submissions in the second round of the competition. After a 6-month conception phase, seven winners have now been selected from these. The new future clusters are expected to start the first of up to three possible implementation phases starting in February 2023.