Single News - 2006-2008
Big Brother for Single Cells
Cells are individuals too. Although this is likely, current experiments involve cell populations where the individual traits of each cell are lost amongst the population average. Scientists from ISAS have changed all that now: With a microchip they have been able to capture single cells and monitor their behaviour over several hours. With this approach it is hoped that unique characteristics of single cells will be discovered.
Complete news only in German
SciArt nano - Exhibition in Cafe Max/Dortmund
ISAS scientists provide an insight into the enigmatic world of nanoscopic materials using images taken using a scanning electron microscope. The "SciArt nano" exhibition will be hosted in Cafe Max (Kuckelke 14, Dortmund, Germany) from December 14th until the end of January 2009.
For a sneak preview click here
ISAS on TV: Can dogs smell cancer?
Jörg Ingo Baumbach, physicist at ISAS, has developed a device that is able to analyse the breath of patients. Like a dog the device is able to "smell" infections if markers are identified. Click here to watch a tv report sent on 3th of October on "Hessische Rundfunk" (only german).
New professor at ISAS
Norbert Esser new head of ISAS
Prof. Norbert Esser, until now head of ISAS Berlin, has accepted the office as new head of the institute in Dortmund and Berlin. New representative of the TU Dortmund at the executive board ot the ISAS is rector Prof. Eberhard Becker. Further member stays Guido Baranowski, general manager of the Technologiezentrum Dortmund. The new direction wants to carry on with work of ISAS smoothly and looks for a scientific successor of Prof. Andreas Manz.
For Curriculum Vitae of Prof. Norbert Esser please click here
Research Rating in Chemistry: Pilot study
In an evaluation by the Wissenschaftsrat (German Science and Humanities Council) ISAS got a "Very good" in research quality and effectiveness. The survey covered 77 institutions in the field of chemistry.
For more information and results please click here (web pages of the Wissenschaftsrat, full results only available in german)
Andreas Manz leaves
Andreas Manz will resign his position as head of ISAS on 31st of May for private reasons. Guido Baranowski, head of Technologiezentrum Dortmund and Metin Tolan, professor at Technische Universität Dortmund will be interim managers.
ISAS researcher in newcomer programme of british foundation
The "Crucible Programme" of the british foundation NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) aims to inspire innovation by bringing together early career researchers from different disciplines, to develop new ideas and explore the wider potential that collaboration can bring to their work. The programme consists of some so-called Lab weekends.
Jonathan West, postdoctoral researcher at ISAS, was chosen to be one of the 30 participants. He will attend the Lab weekends that according to NESTA "will provide a creative environment in which the researchers are free to experiment and develop working relationships."
First prize for ISAS team
Weimar, 5. - 10. Juli 2009:
12. internationale Konferenz "Formation of Semiconductor Interfaces"
Prof. Norbert Esser vom ISAS Berlin ist Mitorganisator
Mehr Infos unter http://www.icfsi2009.tu-chemnitz.de
EU Starting grant for Petra Dittrich
For her project about ‚Nano-Micro-Lipids“ Petra Dittrich gets about two million Euro for the next five years. More than 9000 young researchers had applied, only 201 of them were successful and now get the so called Starting Independent Research Grant of the European Research Council (ERC).
Complete press release only in german.
Genetic Material under a Magnifying Glass
29.01.2008, Source: Angewandte Chemie
The genetic alphabet contains four letters. Although our cells can readily decipher our genetic molecules, it isn’t so easy for us to read a DNA sequence in the laboratory. Scientists require complex, highly sophisticated analytical techniques to crack individual DNA codes.
Volker Deckert and his team at the Institute for Analytical Sciences (ISAS) in Dortmund have recently developed a method that could provide a way to directly sequence DNA. Their process is based on a combination of Raman spectroscopy and atomic force microscopy. As reported in the journal Angewandte Chemie, Deckert and Elena Bailo have successfully analyzed DNA’s closest relative, RNA. Direct sequencing means that the letters of the genetic code are read directly, as if with a magnifying glass. A DNA or RNA strand has a diameter of only two nanometers, so the magnification must be correspondingly powerful. Deckert’s team uses an atomic force microscope to achieve this degree of magnification. Steered by the microscope, a tiny, silvered glass tip moves over the RNA strand. A laser beam focused on the tip excites the section of the strand being examined and starts it vibrating. The spectrum of the scattered light (Raman spectrum) gives very precise information about the molecular structure of the segment. Each genetic “letter”, that is, each of the nucleic acids, vibrates differently and thus has a characteristic spectral “fingerprint”.
The direct resolution of individual bases has not been attainable, but is also not necessary. The tip only has to be moved over the RNA strand at intervals corresponding to about the base-to-base distance. Even if the measured data then consist of overlapped spectra from several neighboring bases, the information can be used to derive the sequence of the RNA. If this method, known as tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (TERS), can be extended to DNA, it could revolutionize the decoding of genetic information. Previous methods for sequencing DNA are highly complex, work indirectly, and require a large sample of genetic material. In contrast, the TERS technique developed by Deckert directly “reads” the code without chemical agents or detours. It also requires only a single strand of DNA. “DNA sequencing could become very simple,” says Deckert, “like reading a barcode at the supermarket.”
Breathing for your doctor
ISAS scientists have developed a methode to analyse the breath of patients for diseases. In a new project, funded by the german research ministry with a million Euro, the team around Jörg Ingo Baumbach will create a device that will be applicable in surgeries and clinics.
Complete press release only in german.
CLINICIP - EU commission's project of the month
The project CLINICIP is developing an intelligent glucose monitoring and control system for critically ill patients in intensive care units (ICUs). The ISAS is one of 14 project partners, the institute is working on a sensor which will be able to monitor the glucose level continously. The sensor works on infrared absorption spectrometry and is able to identify not only glucose but also other metabolic parameters.
The European Commission chose CLINCIP as project of the month because it will improve the survival chances of critically ill patients and increase efficiency and safety in clinical practice.
For the press release of the European Commission please click here
Brushes with switch
New project about functional coatings of polymer brushes
Together with the Leibniz-Institut für Polymerforschung Dresden and four other institutes in Germany and the USA the ISAS will research polymer brushes which can be 'switched' by conditions of their environment, e.g. temperature or pH-value.
Complete press release only in german
Scientific contact: Karsten Hinrichs, tel +49 (0)30 6392 3541, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Germany)
- National Science Foundation (USA)
- IPF - Leibniz-Institut für Polymerforschung, Dresden
- ISAS - Institute for Analytical Sciences, Berlin
- Georg-August Universität, Göttingen
- Clarkson University, New York
- Clemson University, South Carolina
Minister Pinkwart turned the first sod
Together with Andreas Manz, head of ISAS, the nordrhine-westfalian minister of science did the first cut of the spade for the new ISAS building.
The new location will be sited on the campus of the Dortmund university, the construction time is put at one and a half years. The u-shaped building will have 27 laboratories and a modern lecture hall. It is not determined yet which parts of the ISAS staff will move to the new location as the old building will be abided.
The ground breaking ceremony took place with many guests from politics and the "Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Analytischen Wissenschaften", the Board of Trustees and the Scientific Advisory Board.
Cut of the spade for new ISAS-building
Wanted: Single cells
Cells are individuals as well. That is at least likely, as it can still not be definitely proven due to the fact that these smallest components of life cannot easily be caught separately. Till today all statements concerning the functionality of cells are purely statistical. But scientists from ISAS – Institute for Analytical Sciences - and Universität Dortmund want to change that now: In a joint project with the title ICA they are looking for the individual “personality” of cells.
Two very different cell types are supposed to put them on the trail of the specific cell peculiarities. The first one can easily be obtained at a low price in form of common yeast in every supermarket. After an ISAS workgroup already succeeded in catching some single yeast cells by means of a microchip, Andreas Schmid from Universität Dortmund now wants to find out if the mites react differently under the same conditions (e.g. when nutrients are supplied or the temperature increases). “When there is a difference between two cells of the same type, it is shown in the metabolism”, the professor for biotechnology explains. “In this respect the yeast cells are classic study objects for us as their simple structure allows the metabolism to be easily examined”.
But the researchers are not only driven by pure scientific curiosity. Cells are mini-factories, meaning that they can autonomously – without expensive equipment – produce reusable materials and active substances. The catchword is White Biotechnology. In the case of yeast cells it is ethanol. And this is not only interesting in terms of science but also for suppliers of renewable energy. For the alcohol, also called bio-ethanol, produced by natural processes is regarded as the fuel of the future. When the scientists therefore detect that due to genetic differences the yeast cell A can produce ethanol in bigger quantities or faster than yeast cell B, only cells with the “right” genes for raw material extraction can be used in future. “That is our actual goal”, Andreas Schmid points out, “We want to make the production of reusable materials or active substances more efficient and cheaper”.
But at first the engineers, biologists, chemists and physicists participating in ICA have to develop devices and techniques to catch and analyze the cells cautiously. For the sensitive mites are not supposed to notice that they are under observation which means that they are not to be disturbed or even destroyed. As soon as this is accomplished, the specialists for bioinformatics from Universität Dortmund are set to work. Their difficult task is to filter out the relevant data and to identify characteristic values, to elucidate the underlying processes eventually.
Subsequent to a successful yeast cell aptitude test the newly developed processes are to be applied to more complex cell types, such as herbal or human cells. The same goes for the second cell type used in this project, intestinal cancer cells. The ISAS possesses a strain of this cell type; but the cell structure is more complicated and to catch single cells is going to be difficult. And prior to that, the scientists have to deal with an even more tricky task: the cell cultures have to be synchronized, i.e. at a certain time all cells to be examined have to be at the same stage. That is how to find out if the cancer cells’ metabolism produce so-called biomarkers. Biomarkers are certain substances which might help to diagnose cancer. “If we really find definite biomarkers, a small amount of blood serum from the possibly affected part of the body will be sufficient for a reliable diagnosis in future”, project coordinator Roland Hergenröder from ISAS explains.
But whether efficient production of active substances or simpler cancer diagnosis by means of biomarkers, it is all still up in the air. “It will take several years to get there as what we are doing now is pure basic research”, Hergenröder points out. The yeast and cancer cells stand in place for other cells. “With their help we want to find out if it is principally possible to catch single cells and if their examination leads to reliable results.”
Scientists from the ISAS and from the University of Dortmund (department statistics) together with physicians from the Hemer Pulmonary Clinic got the Science-Award 2006 from the Germany Society of Pneumology for their work on diagnosis of lung cancer or respiratory infections.
Complete press release only in german
Cells coming out of Chips
Scientists from ISAS were able to produce nature-like artificial cells with a microchip. Different to other methods this one does not only enable mass production, it also facilitates further treatment of the cells. Not yet of practical use but still surprising: in addition to the usual vesicle shape of cells the method can also produce remarkably long tubes.
Published in Lab on a Chip
Dr. Volker Deckert, director of the department of proteomics at the ISAS – Institute for Analytical Sciences, will get the “Bunsen-Kirchhoff Award” 2006 of the „Deutscher Arbeitskreis für Angewandte Spektroskopie“ (DASp) for his scientific work in the field of tip-enhanced Raman Spectroscopy.
Complete press release only available in german