Pressemitteilung BoxID: 237517 (Hummingbird Diagnostics GmbH)
  • Hummingbird Diagnostics GmbH
  • Im Neuenheimer Feld 519
  • 69120 Heidelberg
  • Ansprechpartner
  • Eva Sterzel
  • +49 (6221) 6510-363

febit to Receive Funding from a Federal Grant Awarded in the German Excellence Cluster Contest

febit starts setup of the Biomarker Discovery Center Heidelberg with focus on cancer diagnostics

(PresseBox) (Lexington/Heidelberg, ) As early as mid-February, febit will start setting up the Biomarker Discovery Center Heidelberg, one of the projects recently awarded funding from the Excellence Cluster Initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Together, the projects of the companies involved in the Biotech Excellence Cluster Rhine-Neckar were granted a total of 40 million Euros for the development of innovative drugs, diagnostics and technologies in cellular and molecular biology.

febit convinced the jury with two projects: in mid-February febit will start combining cutting-edge microarray technology and high-throughput sequencing (Next Generation Sequencing) to create highly powerful and cost-effective procedures for the development and validation of novel biomarkers. The second project aims at the determination of novel tumor markers. Collaborating with the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), febit will conduct studies directed at the identification of markers for various cancer types and develop these into standardized diagnostic assays in the near future.

"We are pleased that the grant gives us the opportunity to initiate these scientifically advanced projects. febit's highly versatile and equally automatable technology is ideally suited for the use in diagnostics requiring individual investigations with standardized procedures," explains febit CSO Peer Stähler.

This particular technology will be able to rapidly identify candidate markers which are then statistically analyzed by a dedicated package of software algorithms. A novel DNA enrichment technology will capture samples for high-throughput sequencing machines, thus allowing rapid and efficient characterization of genes involved in tumor formation.

Besides tumor-specific mutations modern genetic research focuses on non-protein-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) such as microRNAs (miRNAs). These are expressed in cell type-specific patterns allowing the discrimination of normal and cancerous cells. ncRNA and its impact on biomedicine will also be the topic of a public guest lecture given by the renowned Australian scientist Prof. John Mattick (March 12, 2009; DKFZ Heidelberg). This event will provide a great opportunity for discussions and networking activities for an audience interested in biomedical science, especially for the companies and institutes involved in the Biotech Excellence Cluster Rhine-Neckar.

Background information

ncRNAs and miRNAs:

For decades, scientists focussed on one major function of RNA: mRNAs, copies of genes, serve as templates for protein synthesis. However, recent research has demonstrated that RNA molecules execute other key functions. Non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) are not translated into proteins but serve as regulators of cellular functions, e.g. cell division and gene expression. miRNAs (microRNAs) in particular were found to be directly involved in carcinogenesis.

Biomarker Discovery Center Heidelberg:

The Biomarker Discovery Center Heidelberg will combine a high-throughput sequencer with febit's HybSelect technology and a bioinformatic software exclusively developed for this project. The versatile microfluidic biochips enable rapid and efficient detection of markers identified in the tumor marker project. The software performs statistic analyses and provides the database for the collaborating excellence-cluster partners.

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Biotech Excellence Cluster Rhine-Neckar

The cluster includes renowned academic research institutions, 60 small and medium-sized biotechnology enterprises, as well as large pharmaceutical companies. With the help of the federal grant, the cluster aims at the development of 70 new drugs, diagnostic products and technology platforms, as well as about 20 innovative services in the field of cellular and molecular medicine. These products are envisaged to reach industrial maturity by the year 2013. The initiative will guarantee 400 highly qualified jobs in research and development. Another 4,000 jobs are projected to be added by the year 2018.

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Hummingbird Diagnostics GmbH

febit develops, produces and markets flexible automated solutions for enabling biochip applications in Life Sciences. The product portfolio includes various instruments, assay protocols and bioanalytical services, complemented by bioinformatics software and consulting.
For its main applications HybSelect – febit’s innovative DNA capture method for Next-Generation-Sequencing – and protein-coding or non-coding transcriptomic profiling, the highly elaborated microfluidics of the patented Geniom Biochip offers the highest degree of automation, flexibility and efficiency throughout the field.
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