On the trail of biomarkers and signalling substances with major instrumentation

October 27, 2011

In the life sciences, imaging methods such as microscopy play a central role. The technique of imaging mass spectrometry is a new and analytic method in this field that promises many benefits. This is the reason why in October 2011 the Joint Committee of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has decided, as part of the "Imaging Mass Spectrometry in the Life Sciences" initiative, to equip nine universities with appropriate major instrumentation systems. The approved funds, amounting to a total of 5.8 million euros will go to the Humboldt University in Berlin, the Technical University of Munich, the Aachen University of Technology and the universities of Bielefeld, Giessen, Jena, Kiel, Cologne and Münster, which succeeded in obtaining the support from among the 35 funding proposals submitted.

Imaging mass spectrometry promises to deliver important advances, for example in the identification of biomarkers in molecular pathology, in the characterisation and functional analysis of natural materials and signalling substances in plants and insects, or in the search for diagnostic and prognostic marker molecules in the personalised medicine of the future. It is therefore of most interest to the life sciences, because the method allows the direct, spatially resolved measurement of a variety of analytically relevant substances in a tissue sample, and so achieves a spatial resolution in the micron range. In contrast to the classical methods for visualising proteins in tissue, imaging mass spectrometry also requires no prior knowledge of the target protein. Thus, the detection of thousands of components is possible at the same time.

The newly selected research groups convinced the ten experts of the international Review Group, including by the quality of their preliminary work and the coherent plans for implementation of their research projects. The nine universities will now receive mass spectrometers of the highest standard, in order to maintain Germany's scientific leadership in this area, and to develop it further.
Further Information

Media contact: DFG Press and Public Relations Office,
Tel. 49-228-885-2443

Technical contact at the DFG Head Office:
Dr. Manfred Mürtz, Scientific Instrumentation and Information Technology Group,
Tel. 49-228-885-2432

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

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