15th January 2016: Masato Akutsu successful in Volkswagen Foundation funding initiative

Exploring daring new ideas, which may transform common wisdom – this is the aim of the relatively young Volkswagen Foundation initiative called Experiment!. Dr Masato Akutsu, group leader at the IBC2 and BMLS and associated LOEWE Ub-Net member, succeeded in the highly competitive call for bold research concepts. He secured just under 100.000 € to prove a concept which has the potential to revolutionize structure determination by protein crystallography. This process is currently often hampered by the ability of proteins to crystallize. Akutsu now proposes to develop a technology, which overcomes the need for conventional protein crystals. If successful, this will open the avenue for structure determination of a long list of proteins for which high-resolution structures could so far not be obtained.

Link to the Akutsu lab.



 14th January 2016: Max Planck scientists discover new switch for blood vessel formation

Blood vessels play an important role throughout life: During embryonic development, their growth determines whether organs are supplied with nutrients in a timely manner. In adulthood, sprouting of new blood vessels is instrumental for repair and regeneration processes. If blood vessel growth ist disturbed, it can impact on the progression of cancer, diabetes and eye diseases. As published in Nature today, a team around LOEWE Ub-Net partner PD Dr. Michael Potente (MPI for Heart and Lung Research, Bad Nauheim) has now discovered how the absence of transcription factor FOXO1 unleashes blood vessel growth. The results of the international group of scientists could serve as a basis for new treatments of diseases in which blood vessel growth plays a role.

Download English press release
Download German press release

Link to Nature article
Link to "News & Views" article about this discovery.

Unfettered blood vessel growth without FOXO1. The micrographs show developing blood vessels in the retinas of mice. In the control animals (left), the vascular network shows a high degree of organization. When the FOXO1 gene is absent, excessive and persistent growth of blood vessels is observed. In particular, the venous part of the vascular network is affected by inactivation of FOXO1, resulting in increased vessel size and density. The colours represent various blood vessel markers. Photo: MPI for Heart and Lung Research.