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Two new DFG research units at the University of Freiburg

The research units are aiming to reveal the potential of enzymatic catalysis and investigate the biological mechanisms that underlie bladder cancer.

Freiburg, Sep 22, 2023

The German Research Foundation (DFG) has set up eight new research units. Two of them are at the University of Freiburg.

Unlocking the potential of S-adenosylmethionine-dependent enzyme chemistry

The research unit “Unlocking the Potential of S-adenosylmethionine-dependent Enzyme Chemistry” aims to develop the new potentials of enzymatic catalysis. Prof Dr Jennifer Andexer of the Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy at the University of Freiburg is the unit’s spokeswoman. A total of ten groups are taking part in this project. Four of them are working at the University of Freiburg. The others are at the University of Basel (supported by the Swiss National Fund (SNF)), Bielefeld University, the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig, the University of Münster, the University of Konstanz, and the University of Stuttgart.

Enzymes accelerate chemical reactions in organisms. Their catalytic capabilities allow them to reduce the high levels of activation energy required for some chemical reactions. This makes enzymes of interest for the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, for example. The unit is concentrating on enzymes that work in combination with the molecule S-adenosylmethionine.

Improving understanding of bladder cancer

The research unit “UcarE – Urothelial Carcinoma Epigenetics” aims to investigate the biological mechanisms that underlie bladder cancer. The unit’s spokesman is Prof Dr Ian Frew of the Faculty of Medicine and the BIOSS Centre for Biological Signalling Studies of the University of Freiburg. Seven groups in all are taking part in this project. They are researching at the University of Freiburg, RWTH Aachen University and the University of Tübingen. Among other things, the unit’s members would like to set up a biobank that gathers and holds three-dimensional cell cultures of tumours and data from molecular and genetic analyses of them. Using these as a foundation, therapies will be developed that are personally tailored to individual bladder cancer patients.

DFG research units enable scientists to dedicate themselves to current and pressing questions in their area of expertise and allow them to establish innovative approaches to their work. The units can receive financial support for up to eight years. The DFG is currently supporting 190 research units, 12 clinical research units, and 19 centres for advanced studies in humanities and social sciences. The eight new units are receiving a total of around 35.5 million euros.

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