The research scope of the initiative's technological resources includes projects in cancer research, virology, biosensors, enzymology, polymer chemistry, and mathematics. The idea is that the molecular building blocks and circuits developed in these projects will subsequently be used in practical interdisciplinary projects. For example, researchers from Heidelberg University and the Helmholtz-Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health are using naturally occurring viruses to develop new vehicles that can deliver targeted gene therapy. By combining surface proteins from various natural viral isolates with synthetic sequences, the researchers hope to make it possible to selectively treat individual tissue and cell types in, for example, cases of pancreatic cancer and viral infections.
Meanwhile, Forschungszentrum Jülich is developing modular synthetic enzyme cascades. The idea is that these will be installed in microbial cell factories and will allow us to do things like use alternative carbon and energy resources and synthesise optically active building blocks that can be used as pharmaceuticals, food supplements and fine chemicals. Researchers at the University of Freiburg are aiming to develop innovative biohybrid polymers. The work involves functionalising new materials with adjustable mechanical and biological properties by installing them with synthetic biological switches. Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) can then use them as 3D matrices for the targeted differentiation of neuronal stem cells.