Translating research findings into viable commercial applications plays a key role in solving societal problems. The Helmholtz Association therefore supports projects that are particularly promising in this regard through the Helmholtz Validation Fund (HVF).
It chose seven projects overall in the two rounds of applications held this year. These projects will receive a total of €9.1 million in funding through 2019. “Through the Helmholtz Validation Fund we provide our researchers with important assistance in developing their research findings into market-ready innovations,” says Otmar Wiestler, president of the Helmholtz Association.
Among the seven projects chosen for funding this year is a project from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin. Armin Rehm and Uta Höpken are using CAR T-cell therapy to develop a gene therapeutic agent for multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer previously considered incurable, as well as for mature B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas. This involves taking T-cells from patients and equipping them with an artificial immune receptor, the so-called chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). The modified immune cells are then infused back into the patients. With the help of the receptor, therapeutic T-cells recognize certain features (cancer antigens) on the surface of tumor cells and then attack and kill these cells. The aim of the treatment is to halt the spread of blood cancer and cure the patient.
Featured Image: T-cells attack a cancer cell. Image: Alex Ritter, Jennifer Lippincott Schwartz and Gillian Griffiths, National Institutes of Health, CC-BY-NC.