©FMP/ Barth van Rossum30.03.2020
Berlin research alliance develops influenza inhibitor
Using viruses against influenza, avian flu - and maybe soon also against Corona? An alliance of scientists from the Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP), the Freie Universität Berlin (FU), the Technische Universität Berlin (TU), the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU), the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and the Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin has developed a chemically modified phage capsid in the Brain City Berlin, which makes flu viruses harmless by encapsulating them. Whether this groundbreaking development is also effective in humans will be investigated in the next step.
Influenza viruses are not only highly dangerous, they are also difficult to combat. The problem: Antiviral drugs used up to now only attack the virus when it has already infected the lung cells. This could change soon. As the Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP), announced on Monday, a multidisciplinary research alliance of scientists from the FMP, the Freie Universität Berlin (FU), the Technische Universität Berlin (TU), the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU), the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlinhas developed a groundbreaking approach to combat seasonal influenza and avian flu, which could possibly also be used against the coronavirus.
The interdisciplinary project is one of the most recent examples of successful, cross-institutional collaboration between scientific institutions in the Brain City Berlin. Just as the science location, the Berlin research alliance is characterized by on an open research atmosphere and a wide range of expert knowledge.
Like a Velcro tape - that is how the new approach works
The inhibitor, developed jointly by biologists, chemists, physicists, virologists, medical doctors and imaging specialists, makes use of a characteristic that all influenza viruses have: On their surfaces there are three-binding (trivalent) receptors, the so-called haemagglutinin proteins. In the case of infection, the viruses hook into the lung cells - similar to a Velcro fastener. The core principle of the new inhibitor: It “deceives” the flu virus by simulating the surface of lung tissue cells.
The active ingredient is based on a harmless intestinal inhabitant: a so-called “Q-beta phage”. Phages are viruses that use bacteria or other viruses as hosts and thus render them harmless. Based on an empty and therefore non-infectious shell of such a phage, the Berlin researchers developed a chemically modified “phage capsid”. This empty phage shell encapsulates the influenza viruses perfectly and literally takes the air to breathe away from them. To provide “bait” for the virus, sugar molecules are attached to the phages.
The approach of the Berlin research alliance offers completely new perspectives for the development of antiviral drugs. “Pre-clinical trials show that we are able to render harmless both seasonal influenza viruses and avian flu viruses harmless with our chemically modified phage shell,” explains Professor Dr. Christian Hackenberger, Head of the Department Chemical Biology at the FMP and Leibniz-Humboldt Professor for Chemical Biology at HU Berlin. “Our rationally developed, three-dimensional, multivalent inhibitor points to a new direction in the development of structurally adaptable influenza virus binders. This is the first achievement of its kind in multivalency research.”
Preclinical studies are expected to test the effectiveness in humans
Whether the new inhibitor will also work in humans, is what the Berlin researchers now want to test in further preclinical studies. The Berlin researchers confirm that the new approach has great potential. The inhibitor is biodegradable and non-toxic. Furthermore, in cell culture studies it proved not to be immunogenic; it caused no immune system response.
With the support of the Robert Koch Institute, the Berlin researchers were also able to investigate the potential of phage capsids against many current influenza virus strains and avian influenza viruses. And at the the Medical Department, Division of Infectiology and Pneumology, of Charité, the therapeutic potential of the inhibitor could be demonstrated in human lung tissue: If the tissue was infected with influenza viruses and treated with the phage capsid, the influenza viruses were practically unable to reproduce.
In principle, the active ingredient can also be applied to other viruses, and possibly to bacteria, says Christian Hackenberger. Combating corona represents a new challenge for the Berlin researchers. They are currently pursuing the idea, by means of the phage approach, of developing an active ingredient that prevents the viruses from binding to the host cells in the throat and the subsequent airways, and thus an infection of humans.(vdo)
In my opinion, such a complex project could only have been undertaken in Berlin, where there truly are experts for every issue.
(Professor Dr. Andreas Herrmann, Head of Molecular Biophysics at Humboldt University zu Berlin)
- Facts & Events ©Martin Sanchez on UnsplashFacts & EventsOpening perspectives for Berlin universities: Starting June 4, pandemic-related restrictions on studying and teaching will be gradually eased in light…→
Coronavirus – What is happening in the Brain City Berlin?
- Facts & EventsFacts & EventsAs part of the “Creative Cities Challenge”, the “Global Innovation Collaborative” is now looking for innovative solutions that will contribute to the…→
Open until 20 July: Call for Competition Entries “Creative Cities Challenge 2021”
- Facts & EventsFacts & EventsThis year too, Berlin and Brandenburg expect a high level of participation in the innovation competition advertised by both States.→
Berlin Brandenburg Innovation Award: apply until 21 June
- Facts & EventsFacts & EventsCurrent technological developments in the field of life sciences, exchanges and networking will be the focus of BIONNALE on 12 May.→
BIONNALE 2021 – register now!
- Facts & Events Credit: ThisisEngeneering RAEng on UnsplashFacts & EventsIt is considered to be one of the most important instruments of Berlin's higher education equality policy: the “Berliner Chancengleichheitsprogramm”…→
Berlin Equal Opportunities Programme: 6 more years
- Facts & Events Credit: Berlin Partner/WüstenhagenFacts & EventsThe online event “Redefining the Smart City” on 23 and 24 March is inviting international researchers and Smart City experts to various workshops.The…→
International symposium on the subject of Smart Cities
- Facts & Events ThisisEngineering RAEng on UnsplashFacts & EventsBerlin universities are above the national average in terms of equality. In 2020, the state universities in the Brain City Berlin filled around half…→
Capital of Female Professors
- Facts & Events FU Berlin © Stephan Niespodziany, www.rejoyce.berlinFacts & EventsDigital, hybrid, or live in-person: in 2021, events in the Brain City Berlin will still be shaped by the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic.…→
Brain City Berlin: Top 10 Events in 2021
- Facts & Events Matthias Heyde, HU BerlinFacts & EventsThe new Unter den Linden underground station is currently teeming with science. An exhibition organised by the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin shows…→
Exhibition tip: Science Underground
- Facts & Events left: TU Berlin, Pressestelle / right: Marten KörnerFacts & EventsSeveral researchers in Brain City Berlin have recently received top-class prize grants. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prizes were awarded to Prof. Dr…→
7 research awards for Berlin scientists
- Facts & Events Berlin Science WeekFacts & EventsWith more than 200 events and over 500 speakers, this year’s Berlin Science Week is bigger than ever before. However, the 2020 edition of the…→
Berlin Science Week 2020 – Digital and Global
- Facts & Events MPG © Hallbauer und FiorettiFacts & EventsThe Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has given top Berlin researcher Professor Dr Emmanuelle Charpentier and American Professor Dr Jennifer A. Doudna…→
2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to Emmanuelle Charpentier: Congratulations!
- Facts & Events ©Mario Gogh/UnsplashFacts & EventsStart-ups arising from research being done at Berlin's universities are of major importance for the region's economy. As the “Gruendungsumfrage 2020”…→
Academic start-ups strengthen Berlin's economy
- Facts & Events ©Samuel HenneFacts & EventsThe exhibition MACHT NATUR at STATE Studio in Berlin focuses on the discomfort that many of us experience when faced with human intervention in…→
MACHT NATUR: an exhibition that asks questions
- Facts & Events ©visitBerlin/Sarah LindemannFacts & EventsReal-world Laboratories are bringing scientists together with practitioners to develop solutions to the questions of tomorrow in an experimental…→
The "StadtManufaktur Berlin" Exhibition: experiments to create a city worth living in
- Facts & Events LNDW/IrmischFacts & EventsThe Long Night of Sciences (Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften) has long been one of the highlights of the Brain City Berlin event calendar every June.…→
Long Night of the Sciences: this year as a podcast series
- Facts & Events [Translate to English:] ©Fotowerk – AdobeStockFacts & EventsThree new health care courses will start in the winter semester 2020/21 at the Alice Salomon Hochschule Berlin (ASH Berlin).→
Apply now - 3 new health degree courses at the ASH Berlin
- Facts & Events © Futurium/Ali GhandtschiFacts & EventsFor all those who have not yet planned anything specific for the weekend - here are a few tips from the Brain City editorial team combining leisure…→
5 tips: Weekend in Brain City Berlin
- Facts & Events Fotocredit: #MIT Covid-19 ChallengeFacts & EventsApply for the #MIT Hackathon "Beat the Pandemic II" until 26 May! Experts from different fields are sought.→
"Beat the Pandemic II": Join the MIT COVID-19 Challenge
- Facts & Events ©BIT6Facts & EventsThe Coronvirusa crisis poses great challenges, especially for small and medium-sized companies. On 20 May, scientific experts will speak all day in…→
TRAO – digital transfer day on the 20th of May
- Facts & Events ©Paul Hahn PhotographyFacts & EventsBerlin's Senator for Economics, Ramona Pop, and Brandenburg's Minister of Economic Affairs, Jörgs Steinbach, have once again announced the search for…→
2020 Innovation Award: Apply by 22th June!
- Facts & Events © Beuth Hochschule / Karsten FlügelFacts & EventsBuildings, lecture halls and laboratories in the Brain City Berlin are currently closed to students, teachers and researchers due to the corona…→
COVID-19: Berlin universities are helping
- Facts & Events ©TU Berlin Pressestelle / DahlFacts & EventsThe coronavirus pandemic carries many risks, not only for individuals, but also for society. But how are the risks being perceived? And how are people…→
Risk perception in the coronavirus crisis: a survey from TU Berlin
- Facts & Events [Translate to English:] ©Marcel/UnsplashFacts & EventsBe it the greater mouse-eared bat, the brown long-eared bat, the serotine bat or the common noctule – bats feel particularly at home in Berlin. 18 of…→
Until 8th of March: Bat Capital seeks hobby researchers
- Facts & Events © Falling Walls FoundationFacts & EventsWhether it is Berlin Science Week, Long Night of the Sciences or the Greentech Festival - the Berlin Science Year 2020 promises to be at least as…→
Brain City Berlin 2020: 10 Event Highlights
- Facts & Events ©TU Berlin PressestelleFacts & Events“Berlin Institute for the Foundations of Learning and Data” (BIFOLD) is the new organisation that the Berlin Big Data Center (BBDC) and the Berlin…→
AI Beacon for Berlin: Millions in funding from the German Federal Government and State of Berlin
- Facts & Events shutterstock © andersphotoFacts & EventsBerliners win six high-ranking research awards: a total of five outstanding scientists received awards from the European Research Council. And Berlin…→
Six awards announced for Berlin scientists
- Facts & Events ©IFAFFacts & Events22.11.2019 | Interdisciplinarity is a central characteristic of science and research in Berlin. This was most recently proven when the Berlin…→
IFAF Berlin marks 10th anniversary
- Facts & Events ©ADN BroadcastFacts & Events31.10.2019 | For the second time, a Falling Walls Lab was held in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, on 21 September 2019. The event was organized by…→
Brain City Ambassador organizes 2nd Falling Walls Lab in Tunis
- Facts & Events ©Berlin Science Week 2019Facts & Events23.10.2019 | Over 350 top researchers from all over the world, more than 130 events, and a new format: the "Berlin Science Campus". Berlin Science…→
10 days dedicated to science: Berlin Science Week 2019
- Facts & Events ©Marvin Meyer/UnsplashFacts & EventsMore students than ever before are expected to be enrolled at the colleges and universities in the Brain City Berlin by the winter semester 2019/20.…→
Start of the semester: 195,000 students expected | 17.10.2019
- Facts & Events Fu Berlin / Peter HirnselFacts & EventsBerlin is a cosmopolitan metropolis. People from more than 190 countries live and work in the city. More and more young, talented people who would…→
Berlin universities are extraordinarily international | 10.10.2019
- Facts & Events UVB 2019 / André WagenzikFacts & EventsBrain City Berlin is considered one of the leading locations in Germany working on artificial intelligence. Berlin science is an important driver of…→
Accelerating the digital transformation: TU Berlin and business associations intensify cooperation | 02.10.2019
- Facts & Events © ESMT Berlin/Fotografin: Annette KorrolFacts & EventsAlso a great outcome for Brain City Berlin: Özlem Bedre-Defolie, Associate Professor of Economics at the ESMT Berlin international business school has…→
On the trail of dominant platforms: ESMT Professor receives around 1.5 million euro in grant funding | 11.09.2019
- Facts & Events ©Futurium/David von BeckerFacts & EventsAlmost everyone's occupied with the future, because it's going to affect all of us. The Futurium, which opened yesterday in Brain City Berlin, invites…→
Creating public space for thinking in Brain City Berlin: the opening of the Futurium | 06.09.2019
- Facts & Events [Translate to English:] Peitz/CharitéFacts & EventsThe Brain City Berlin once again gets top-class new scientists: The medician and epidemiologist Prof. Dr. Dr. Sabine Gabrysch is the first female…→
First nationwide professorship for climate change and health in Berlin | 26.06.2019
- Facts & Events [Translate to English:] OttobockFacts & EventsThe last school day in Berlin is over. Finally summer holidays! But some students might get bored while swimming all day in the Havel or the…→
Clever throughout the summer holidays | 19.06.2019
- Facts & Events [Translate to English:] Florian ReimannFacts & EventsThe future of the city: what could it look like? That's what Berlin's CityLAB is busy thinking about and researching. The Berlin experimental…→
Laboratory for the digitalization of Berlin: CityLAB opens | 13.06.2019
- Facts & Events [Translate to English:] chris knight/unsplashFacts & EventsBerliners with foreign roots are extremely innovative. According to a short report by IW, the Cologne Institute for Economic Research, 16.1% of the…→
Berliners with a migration background especially inventive | 29.05.2019
- Facts & Events [Translate to English:] TU Berlin/DahlFacts & EventsBerlin is one of the most exciting centers for science and research in the world. Brain City Berlin is characterized by international and…→
Brain City Berlin: in free dialog with the world | 13.05.2019
- Facts & Events [Translate to English:]Facts & EventsIn the globally recognized QS University Ranking, Berlin's universities performed very well in many disciplines. They are 30 times among the top 50…→
QS World University Ranking 2019 - Berlin Universities are among the world's best in many disciplines | 21.03.2019
- Facts & Events [Translate to English:] the climate reality project/usplashFacts & EventsAlready for the third time the international conference "I, Scientist" takes place in the Brain City Berlin. From 20 to 21 September 2019, students…→
Register now! "I, Scientist" - Gender Conference for Women Scientists | 25.07.2019