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International Conference: Paving the way to new therapies

Translational research aims to transfer findings from basic research to medical application as quickly as possible. (Photo: DZHK)

How does research reach the patient? Scientists and physicians from every medical specialty all over the world ask themselves this question. Particularly widespread diseases like dementia, cardiovascular diseases or cancer pose a significant challenge to the ageing society. The German Centre for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK) is hosting the 2nd DZHK Conference on Translational Medicine under the slogan “Paving the way to new therapies” on 9th and 10th January 2019 in Berlin.

DZHK Conference on Translational Medicine in Berlin, 9th to 10th January 2019

Translation is the transfer of research findings into routine medical practice. This happens too rarely and often too slowly. The demands on modern medicine have also changed: New therapies increasingly need to be more tailored to the individual patient in order to be superior to conventional ones. Big data and artificial intelligence are finding their way into all areas of research and medical care.

Translation is therefore a complex process with many involved: basic researchers, physicians, IT specialists, companies, regulatory authorities, health services researchers and many others. “There is no sure formula for successful translation, but we are all learning from each other”, says DZHK Board Chairman Thomas Eschenhagen. The conference is therefore not only focusing on cardiovascular research; instead, examples of successful translation from various medical disciplines will be presented and different approaches will be demonstrated.

So, for example, Michaela Sharpe from London is reporting on how Great Britain is connecting science and industry with the Catapult Programme in order to bring medical innovation onto the market.

The Mainz-based researcher and biotech entrepreneur Ugur Sahin will speak about his novel cancer therapy, which is the result of years of research and development work. Sahin reprogrammes patients’ immune cells so that the immune cells recognise the individual characteristics of cancer cells and destroy them. The first clinical trials with melanoma patients were promising. Researchers and authorities are breaking new ground when it comes to the authorisation of such individualised therapies; conventional clinical studies are not suitable here. This is also a part of translation.

“Successes, like those of Ugur Sahin, encourage us translational researchers and show that it is worth thinking in new ways”, states Eschenhagen. Yet for him, it is also important to convey a realistic picture to young researchers. According to him, translation is not synonymous with quick success. Instead, having a lot of staying power and a strong network is required. The DZHK is one of six German Centres for Health Research (DZG), the founding of which was initiated by the German Federal Government. Each of the centres unites experts on a widespread disease from all over Germany with the aim to accelerate translation.

Pierluigi Nicotera, Scientific Director of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), will show how a new IT system – so-called Memory-Driven Computing – will contribute to new findings in the area of genome research and image analysis, with particular emphasis on neurodegenerative diseases.

In the area of cardiovascular research, DZHK researchers have made major progress with artificial heart tissues created from stem cells in the last three years. Tissues of this kind are required since destroyed heart cells cannot regenerate after a myocardial infarction. At the conference, projects will be introduced that are preparing the first application in humans.

“However, the basis for successful translation is still good science”, says Eschenhagen with conviction. According to him, translation therefore needs both, strong basic research and programmes that purposefully transfer the results of this research into application.


2nd DZHK Conference on Translational Medicine
9th to 10th January 2019, Berlin, Langenbeck-Virchow-Haus
Programme and registration:

The official language of the conference is English.

Christine Vollgraf, Public Relations Officer, German Centre for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK), phone: + 49 (0)30 3465 529 02, presse(at)