Issue 98, May / June 2018
bullet Precision Medicine
bullet Cellbricks
bullet DIfE - German Diabetes Risk Score
bullet Innovation: Digital Stuttering Therapy Speechagain
Precision Medicine
Exciting news: We are rebuilding our website! We expect to launch in the fall, and are focusing all of our resources on this upgrade. Due to this, we will be publishing the newsletter every other month over the summer. The next newsletter, which will come out by the end of August, will address "Blockchain."

In this newsletter for May and June, we are focusing on four initiatives in the area of precision medicine from Germany.

By taking the patient's individual differences like genes, environment, lifestyle and diet into account, precision medicine moves away from the one-size-fits-all approach towards selecting treatments based on the patient's individual conditions, thus improving chances of survival and reducing side effects.

MammaTyper® is a test for subtyping breast cancer in order to determine more precise treatment options. The German Diabetes Risk Score by the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam aims to prevent diabetes by determining the individual's risk. Cellbricks' bioprinting method hopes to one day address the organ-donor shortage by printing personalized organs, and Speechagain makes stuttering therapy accessible based on every individual's need.
In the interview, Prof. Dr. Borner addresses ethical questions and compares the state of precision medicine in the US and Germany.

Interview with Prof. Dr. Christoph Borner, Institute for Molecular Medicine and Cell Research, University of Freiburg

Prof. Dr. Christoph Borner is the Director of the International Masters Program of Biomedical Sciences between the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina, and the University of Freiburg in Germany (Double Master Degree), Director of the Spemann Graduate School of Biology and Medicine of the Excellence Initiative for the Advancement of Science and professor at the Institute of Molecular Medicine, both at the University of Freiburg.

In this month's interview, Prof. Dr. Borner compares the state of precision medicine in the US and Germany, discusses the role of start-ups in the field of precision medicine, as well as its possible effects on the existing healthcare system. Furthermore he explains what risks patients should be aware of in order to protect their health data.

To read the full interview, click here.

Image: Christoph Borner

Cellbricks is a new company with an ambitious goal: to advance human healthcare. The Berlin-based startup specializes in bioprinting-a new technology that allows biological material to be 3D-printed. 

A high level of involvement in the production process, including designing cells in CAD, bioprinting, culturing cells and analyzing results, allows Cellbricks to meet the specific needs of their customers and researchers. The applications of bioprinting are wide-reaching, from developing mini-organs to test drugs (thus reducing the need for human or animal test subjects) to making vital tissues for regenerative therapies, which could radically alter the cancer research and treatment landscape. Instead of animal testing, or exhausting and painful chemotherapy, organs could be quickly produced for drug testing or even replacement using the patient's own cells. Bioprinting even has the potential to help address the organ donor shortage through the creation of patient-specific organs. 

Cellbricks does not just offer tailor-made biological products, however; they also produce standardized biological assays for research purposes.  Cellbricks hopes to radically alter the way research and healthcare are performed in the future.

Source & Image: Cellbricks GmbH

DIfE - German Diabetes Risk Score Beitrag3

The prevalence of Type 2 diabetes is increasing throughout the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of affected people worldwide has quadrupled to 422 million since 1980. Type 2 diabetes is not a trivial disease. If left untreated, it can lead to blindness, amputations, kidney failure, heart attack or stroke.

Various genetic and epigenetic changes play a role in the development of diabetes. These lead to different subtypes of the disease, which, among other features, are characterized by different mutations. That is why researchers from the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) are focusing on personalized prevention and therapy approaches, like specific treatments at the right time for the various patient group.

Diabetes is a metabolic disease that develops gradually over years, so it is often detected much too late - after resulting damage is already done. Therefore, early identification of the risk for developing Type 2 diabetes is the first step.

Together with the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke (DIfE), DZD researchers developed DIfE - German Diabetes Risk Score available in German and English. With this test, adults can determine their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes within the next five years, helping to prevent or at least delay the onset of the disease. The test is based on data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Potsdam Study.

Every year, nearly 60,000 wom­en in Germany are confronted with the diagnosis of breast can­cer. Approximately 80% of the pa­tients with early mammary car­cinoma can be cured.

Breast cancer cannot be considered a single disease, since different molecular subtypes of breast cancer require different treatment approaches. However, the precise subtyping of breast cancer is key to a successful treatment. The biomarkers estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), HER2, and the proliferation marker Ki-67, following the St. Gallen criteria, form the basis for making a prognosis and thera­py choices for patients.

BioNTech's MammaTyper® offers the possibility of significantly improving the diagnosis and treatment of female patients with breast cancer, alongside additional clinical pathological factors. At its core, It is a CE/IVD marked molecular in vitro diagnostic test, that quantitatively detects the mRNA expression status of the genes ERBB2 (HER2), ESR1 (ER), PGR (PR) and MKI67 (proliferation marker Ki-67) in the tumor tissue of female patients. It is used for molecular subtyping of breast cancer tissue according to the St. Gallen classification (2013) in luminal A-like, luminal B-like (HER2 negative), luminal B-like (HER2 positive), HER2 positive (non-luminal), and triple negative (ductal) tumors.

MammaTyper® has the potential to significantly improve the standard of diagnosis and ultimately the treatment of breast cancer patients. It is one step on the path to making truly personalize medicine broadly available in oncology.
ation Management Bremen GmbH.

Source & Image: BioNTech Diagnostics GmbH

Worldwide, about 1.2% of the population is affected by stuttering. This speech impediment impacts the quality of life for the 85 million people who stutter: 66% report diminished career prospects and 50% suffer from social anxiety disorder. Stuttering can cause higher stress levels, depression and loss of hope and confidence.

Speechagain is a web-based therapy treating people who stutter by using artificial intelligence and real-time voice analysis to provide instant feedback. Interactive video dialogues prepare participants for real life situations. It is an adjunct therapy that can be paired with direct speech-language pathologist therapy or used independently. It is built to the highest scientific standards of the interdisciplinary evidence- and consensus-based S3 guidelines.

Traditional speech therapies often fail to produce the hoped-for effects: While in the US only 15% of all people affected go to therapy, just five in 1,000 individuals report long-term success. 85% do not seek therapy, mainly because stuttering symptoms are managed by social avoidance, hindering traumas from past failed therapies, or early warning signs were ignored. The high costs of traditional therapies, time requirements of regular appointments, and lack of insurance coverage create major hurdles.

Speechagain is changing the way speech therapy is implemented into everyday life. Its scientific foundation was established by Dr. Alexander Wolff von Gudenberg with the Kassel Stuttering Therapy in Germany. With 20 years of clinical utilization, the precursors of Speechagain could successfully treat more than 3,000 people who stutter. Long-term success rates of more than 75% have earned the Kassel Stuttering Therapy its reputation as Europe's leading institute for stuttering treatment. The patented speech recognition technology was further developed and now Speechagain provides effective, evidence-based stuttering treatment on any device.

Speechagain makes stuttering therapy accessible for everyone - anywhere and anytime!

Source &  Image: Speechagain Inc.