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Researchers Study Multiple Interactions between Molecules

New Collaborative Research Center at Freie Universität Berlin

№ 36/2008 from Feb 12, 2008

Its long-term objective is the development of new types of medications and materials; the immediate aim is to gain an understanding of the interrelationships between molecules. "Multivalency as a Chemical Organization and Action Principle – New Architectures, Functions, and Applications" is the new collaborative research center (SFB), that today officially took up its work at Freie Universität Berlin. During the next four years this SFB will be funded with 7.5 million euros from the German Research Foundation (DFG).

The new SFB 765 aims to study key issues in the biological and material sciences. "We want to understand the phenomenon of multivalent binding," stated the coordinator, Rainer Haag, of the Institute of Chemistry and Biochemistry of Freie Universität Berlin. Multivalent binding plays a crucial role, for example, in inflammation. In reaction to inflammation the body recruits white blood cells that congregate and infiltrate the inflamed tissue, thereby increasing the inflammation. That the white blood cells congregate in these areas is related to the surface structure of the cells in the inflamed tissue. They produce molecules to which the white blood cells, using particular receptors, adhere – similar to a key that fits precisely into one lock. "If researchers succeed in blocking the binding sites at the multivalent level, it could pave the way for the development of novel medications," according to Haag.

In addition to Freie Universität, Humboldt-Universität and several non-university research institutions in Berlin are participating in the new SFB which is part of a regional research focus on nanomedicine. It also includes a graduate program with 35 positions for doctoral candidates and five graduate followships. The graduate program is one of the first to be approved in this integrated form.

Further Information

Prof. Dr. Rainer Haag
Institute of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Freie Universität Berlin
Telephone: (030) 838-52633 or (030) 838-53358 (sec.)