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Our Cluster of Excellence addresses major challenges to human health. Based both on known biological principles and those yet to be discovered, our vision is to explore and develop new therapeutic concepts that go beyond other contemporary approaches. For some of the most devastating disease entities in patients with heart, lung, liver and blood disorders (including immune disorders), our research develops new therapies in the field of regenerative science and medicine.
To realize our vision, we translate mechanisms of organogenesis, endogenous repair and stem cell biology into controllable in vitro systems and into disease models with potential clinical application. Certainly, elucidating the existence, the characteristics and the role of stem cells in their distinct niches in adult tissue will provide important cues for therapeutic strategies enhancing endogenous regeneration. REBIRTH scientists will continue to investigate novel tissue-specific stem cells and stem cell-supportive cytokines, and to characterize their role in pathology and organ regeneration. Similarly, novel insights into biological principles of mammalian development are identified within REBIRTH. These will allow investigators not only to improve current protocols for differentiation of stem cells into their specialized derivatives, but also to better understand and advance the generation of bioartificial tissue in vitro.
Of course, reprogramming of adult somatic cells into pluripotent cells represents an important aspect of REBIRTH’s stem cell research. It is now possible to induce full pluripotency in somatic cells of various species, including human cells, through transgenic overexpression of specific pluripotency factors. The technology of generating what are known as induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, introduced by the Yamanaka lab (Kyoto) in 2006, is considered a major breakthrough in stem cell research. REBIRTH scientists have substantially contributed to current knowledge and technological developments in this field, for instance concerning the development of methods for improved generation, characterization, expansion and differentiation of iPS cells. Current projects include risk assessment and strategies to produce clinically safe cell products, the development of novel tools for correction of genetic mutations in patient-specific stem cells and their use in disease modelling and tissue engineering.
Based on our philosophy of creating synergies by bringing together clinicians and biomedical researchers with physical and chemical scientists and engineers, the fields of materials engineering, chemistry and physics have complemented our biomedical discoveries by developing innovative technologies that create novel prospects for cell and tissue engineering. The structural and scientific set-up of our cluster helps conventional boundaries in medicine to be transcended, providing a future-oriented view of human health and disease by unravelling new interrelationships between disease entities, such as regeneration and inflammation, degeneration and infection, as well as senescence and tumour development.
Importantly, our programme integrates excellent training with innovative science and both experimental and clinical medicine. The existing wide range of certified/accredited facilities for Good Practice (laboratory, manufacturing and clinical) and close industrial collaborations will be further expanded with a view towards patient-focused, applied studies. Upscaling technologies and pro-active biosafety assessment complete our translational activities. REBIRTH focuses on disorders of the blood (including immunity), heart, lung (respiratory tract) and liver, developing synsergy by connecting experts with a broad range of background knowledge.
With this profile, REBIRTH is an ideal partner for other domestic and international centres in regenerative medicine. MHH’s long-standing commitment to bench-to-bedside solutions, our highly valued interactions with major academic, regulatory and industrial partners, and our previous achievements in the development of novel therapeutic concepts underline the role of REBIRTH as a leading centre for successful translation of basic regenerative sciences into advanced therapy.