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Paul Ehrlich Institute, Langen: Zika vaccine in the mouse test has already been successful

Pioneering research: PEI President Klaus Cichutek (left) and Mayor Frieder Gebhardt (right) congratulated the winners. Kerstin Schott (third from left) together with the mentor Renate König, dr. Frederic B. Thalheimer (center) and dr. Cindy Nürnberger, led by dr. Med. Michael Mühlebach explored. Photo: Straw field

Langen – Anti-tumor cells, HIV inhibitor and Zika vaccine – Five young scientists have explored these issues and have now received the Langener Nachwuchswissenschaftpreis Award.

For the eighth year, the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut (PEI) and the Langener Wissenschaftspreis Promotion Society have honored scientists who published their research articles as first authors in professional journals. "The work of this year's winners provides excellent ideas for the development and testing of biomedical drugs," says PEI President Klaus Cichutek.

International research at PEI in Langen is directly related to the tasks of the Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedical Drugs. "The complexity of pharmaceutical products in our responsibility requires state-of-the-art scientific knowledge, which we provide with our own basic research," says Cichutek. Together with Mayor Frieder Gebhardt, he presented certificates to scientists about the prizes awarded by Sparkasse Langen-Seligenstadt. "We are pleased to support young and talented scientists," says Gebhardt. It is proud to present Langen as a place for exploration and teaching.

1st prize: CAR T cells

The first prize of 1000 Euros is shared by dr. Med. Anett Pfeiffer (29) and dr. Frederic Thalheimer (35) for the study of antitumour immune cells in vivo, i.e. On a living building. Pfeiffer and Thalheimer produced CAR-T cells in mice. These are immune cells (T cells) of the body, which are equipped with artificial antigenic receptor (CAR). Since August 2018, two therapeutics for CAR-T cells have been approved for the treatment of certain forms of human leukemia, which have not been practically untreated so far. In this, patients in their very complex procedure took their own T-immune cells, changed out of the body, multiplied and reused. The method developed by Pfeiffer, Thalheimer and their associates, in which immune cells develop directly in the body, could greatly simplify treatment in the future.

2nd prize: HIV inhibitors

The second prize (600 euros) is awarded to 31 year old dr. Ing. Kerstin Schott. She has been researching and publishing the control of a cellular HIV inhibitor. Schott and her colleagues discussed the limiting factor SAMHD1. Limiting factors inhibit virus infection and proliferation in body cells. But SAMHD1 can do more: it also participates in the development of autoimmune diseases and cancer. The winner found that SAMHD1 activity in the cell was controlled by the dependence of phosphate groups.

Pictures: An environmental festival in Langen

3rd prize: Zika vaccine

The third prize, worth 400 euros, is given to Dr. Ing. Cindy Nürnberger (33) and Bianca Bodmer (28) who produced a test zip vaccine. Zika virus infections occur in more than 80 countries and spread from 2015 to 2017 to Central and South America. The infection is afraid of pregnant women because it can cause fetal deformities in the brain. Infants often have an unusually small head. Researchers Nürnberger and Bodmer, together with PEI colleagues and researchers from the Heinrich Pette Institute, developed an experimental vector vaccine derived from Zika vaccine measles vaccine. Pregnant mice and their offspring could be protected with the vaccine before infection. (JRD)

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