Biotechnology ideas competition - “Learning from nature” MALDIDROPScreen optimizes active ingredient screening and promotes the digitization of active ingredient research.

The joint project "MALDIDROPScreen - Bio-inspired droplet arrays for miniaturized, cell-based active ingredient screens using MALDI mass spectrometry imaging (MSB)" by Prof. Dr. Carsten Hopf, Head of the CeMOS Research Center, and PD Dr. Pavel Levkin, head of the Helmholtz Research Group Biofunctional Materials at KIT, is one of the winning projects in an ideas competition of the state of Baden-Württemberg on biotechnology.

MALDIDROPScreen links two leading technology platforms in Baden-Württemberg - microstructured surfaces for cell screens (KIT) with spatially resolved MALDI-MSB for molecular cell analysis (CeMOS, Mannheim University) - in order to be able to carry out high-throughput cell-based active ingredient screens combined with high-content screenings in the future. In the main phase of the project, the two groups will continue to work closely together to advance this new type of platform in the direction of a marketable product and process.

In the first project phase ("ideas competition") the proof of concept could be provided that for high content screening (HCS) a connection of cell cultures on droplet microarrays (KIT) with matrix-assisted laser desorption / ionization mass spectrometry Imaging (MALDI-MSI) as an analytical technology (CeMOS) is possible. This MALDI-MSI technology with a spatial resolution of 5 to 50 μm is able to comprehensively characterize cell stages and, in particular, to understand the distribution of individual chemicals and their breakdown products. In particular, smaller substances can be measured, such as components of the central metabolism.

The newly developed platform for chemical synthesis, including the implementation of (bio) analytical methods for chemical and biological evaluation on a chip, guarantees fast and direct access to new potential drugs for clinical studies and applications and is therefore particularly popular in medical biotechnology and find application in personalized medicine.

As part of the ideas competition biotechnology - "Learning from nature" of the Ministry of Science, Research and Art Baden-Württemberg (MWK), 18 original research approaches with a high development risk in the fields of "medical biotechnology", "natural systems" and "bio-inspired materials" initially funded in the form of nine-month feasibility studies. MALDIDROPScreen is one of 7 projects that the reviewers rated as particularly promising. CeMOS and KIT can now advance their research on MALDIDROPScreen for two more years with state funding (130,000 euros).