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.