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Challenge #54

Identifying the causes of disease early.

Using mini organs and artificial intelligence, we are exploring the causes of diseases and developing cell-based, personalized medicine.

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The fact that cells are the building blocks of life can be found in every biology textbook. However, their true diversity is only now revealing itself, as we have just recently been able to observe what is happening inside them. For this purpose, we use state-of-the-art technologies at MDC, such as single-cell analysis, that allow us to track which genes a cell is currently reading. If it deviates from the healthy path, it changes more and more. Until now, physicians have only recognized such changes when symptoms of disease appear. At that point, however, treatment of the patients is often invasive, expensive and sometimes no longer successful. With the help of innovative technologies, we therefore want to work together with Charité to detect the onset of diseases much earlier. To this end, we are combining single-cell analyses and state-of-the-art imaging techniques with artificial intelligence, a technique that allows us to examine thousands of cells simultaneously and detect in good time whether any of them are undergoing pathological changes.

We also use personalized disease models such as organoids, or cell samples from patients that serve as mini organs in a Petri dish. We can use them to study how a disease specifically manifests itself in a particular person - and thus develop an individually tailored therapy. Our view into the cell thus opens up new opportunities for medicine. It helps to detect diseases at an early stage and to select precisely tailored therapies or even to intervene before irreparable damage occurs.

(Header: Agniezka Rybak-Wolf, MDC)

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