The task of diagnosing, treating and, at best, curing widespread diseases such as diabetes or cancer is highly complex. One key to this is the intelligent use of biomolecular information. It is important to capture, process and evaluate masses of data. In addition, drugs are to be produced more effectively and in a more environmentally friendly manner. The research partnership M2Aind faces these challenges at the interface of biomedicine and information technology. The partnership thus strengthens the Rhine-Main-Neckar region as the central point of contact for technology cooperation with the healthcare industry.
The area between the Rhine, Main and Neckar is the home of numerous well-known companies in the health industry. International top players such as Merck, Roche, BASF and Sanofi have locations here as well as highly specialized SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises). In addition, there are innovative providers from the fields of biomedicine, analytics and information technology as well as ambitious research clusters. In this respect, the region offers ideal conditions for a practical research alliance whose goal is to harness the vast potential of biomolecular information primarily for the health industry: Welcome to M2Aind (Spoken: Mind), a research cooperation initiated by the University of Mannheim in early 2017. Several dozen small and large companies in the healthcare industry, analytics and information technology work together to exploit the potential of biomolecular data for concrete application contexts.
Information source biomolecule
The partnership, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, focuses on the research of biomolecular information and its intelligent use. Biomolecules are substances that occur in biological materials, ie in plants, animal and human tissue, but also in food. One example is fats, of which there are around 50,000 different variations in the human body alone. Also proteins are among the biomolecules, they are in about 30,000 different forms in the organism on the way.
Wide range of applications
Knowledge of the type, number and composition of biomolecules in tissue, for example, benefits the pharmaceutical industry. Using biomolecular data, it can be seen, for example, in industrial research, whether development candidates for future cancer drugs reach the tumor and whether it reacts to a treatment. This speeds up the development of novel drugs. Another promising field of application is the environmentally friendly production of pharmaceuticals. The way to get there is through the permanent collection and automated evaluation of molecular information during the manufacturing process. In this way deviations can be detected in real time and appropriate reactions can be initiated quickly. In another field of application, the food industry, quality assurance could be made more efficient. Sugar substitutes for a healthier diet are also conceivable products based on digitized biomolecular information.
However, there is a central prerequisite for the almost unmanageable amount of biomolecular information: the flood of information must first be assessed, channeled and evaluated in a targeted manner. This is where Big Data Analytics comes into play: it is only possible to capture the process. That's exactly what M2Aind is working on.
The focus is on three impulse projects that deal with the described research topic at various levels. The entire production chain of pharmaceuticals, from development to drug testing. In another project, participants are developing digitized methods for the analysis of tissue as well as the production of tissue preparations and complex cell cultures for practical research. The third project is dedicated to device development. The goal is to develop highly sensitive measuring devices and methods for the reliable acquisition of biomolecular data. These projects are milestones in applied research for the benefit of patients and consumers - in the region and beyond.
Innovationsgeist im Zeichen des Quadrats
M2Aind ist eine innovationsgetriebene, forschungsintensive Allianz, die tief in der Region verwurzelt ist. Das zeigt schon der Name, der von ihrer Heimatstadt Mannheim inspiriert ist: Die Innenstadt der südwestdeutschen Metropole ist rasterförmig angelegt und unter dem Begriff „Mannheimer Quadrate“ bekannt.