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    Twin success for researchers

    11/27/2017

    The University of Würzburg is awarded a new Collaborative Research Centre and is the partner in a second CRC which will focus on the fundamentals of biofabrication and the immune response after stem cell therapy, respectively.

    Blick in ein Labor

    Sie sind eine Bestätigung für exzellente Wissenschaft: neue Sonderforschungsbereiche, die jetzt von der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft eingerichtet wurden. (Foto: Robert Emmerich)

    "From the basics of biofabrication to functional tissue models" – hence the title of a new Transregio Collaborative Research Centre headed by the University of Würzburg. Jürgen Groll, who holds the Chair of Functional Materials in Medicine and Dentistry, is the spokesman; the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and the University of Bayreuth are partner universities.

    The basics of biofabrication

    Scientists use the term "biofabrication" to refer to automated 3-D printing processes that simultaneously process living cells and bioactive material to engineer structures that closely mimic living tissue. "This method provides the opportunity of producing functional tissue models in an automated and standardised process. They are an invaluable substitute for animal tests, pharmacological and cancer research and as regenerative therapeutic option," Jürgen Groll explains.

    Progress in this young research domain is presently limited mainly by a lack of suitable cell-compatible and printable materials, the so-called bioinks, which in addition to assuring cell survival do not impair cell behaviour or are even able to control it. Other aspects that hinder development are an incomplete understanding of the interrelations between process parameters and cell responses and suitable methods of more accurate fabrication.

    Therefore, the new Collaborative Research Centre will focus on studying the basics of biofabrication during the first four years funded by the DFG with around ten million euros. To this end, the participating scientists aim to establish an internationally leading centre of excellence.

    The Collaborative Research Centre is set to run for twelve years so that the fundamental findings can successively be studied biologically, improved and applied systematically with the goal to produce functional human tissue models.

    Immune response after stem cell transplantation

    The second Collaborative Research Centre recently approved is titled "Controlling the graft-versus-host response and the graft-versus-leukaemia response after allogeneic stem cell transplantation". It is coordinated by the University of Regensburg; Professor Hermann Einsele, Director of the Medical Clinic and Policlinic II, is the Würzburg contact. The University of Erlangen-Nuremberg is also involved in the project.

    Background information: Transplanting blood stem cells is a treatment option in certain types of leukaemia and lymphoma. A lot of patients, however, experience an immune reaction of the transplanted cells against the healthy tissue, which frequently damages the skin, liver and gastrointestinal system.

    The Collaborative Research Centre "Controlling the graft-versus-host response and the graft-versus-leukaemia response after allogeneic stem cell transplantation" therefore studies the immunologic mechanisms of blood stem cell transplantation. Their long-term goal is to reduce the treatment's side effects and suppress undesired immune responses.

    About Collaborative Research Centres

    Collaborative Research Centres are long-term university-based research institutions, established for up to 12 years, in which researchers work together within a multidisciplinary research programme.

    They allow researchers to tackle innovative, challenging and complex long-term research undertakings. All new Collaborative Research Centres will be funded from 1st January 2018 initially for a period of four years.

    To learn more about the Collaborative Research Centres of the University of Würzburg, go to: https://www.uni-wuerzburg.de/ueber/forschung/spitzenforschung/

    Contact

    Prof. Dr. Hermann Einsele, Medical Clinic and Policlinic II,
    T: +49 931 201-40001, Einsele_h@ukw.de

    Prof. Dr. Jürgen Groll, Chair of Functional Materials in Medicine and Dentistry,
    T: +49 931 201-73510, juergen.groll@fmz.uni-wuerzburg.de

    By Gunnar Bartsch

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