Researcher with pathogens.
Researcher with pathogens.

Infections – Prevention, diagnostics, drug development

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Covid-19 pandemic, triggered by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, as an "emergency for public health on an international scale". Apart from the corona crisis, infections pose a permanent threat for humankind. According to the WHO, diseases caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites are still among the most frequent causes of death in non-industrialized countries. HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, for example, kill almost five million people worldwide every year.

Infectious diseases are again on the rise also in industrialized countries. In particular, the widespread use of antibiotics, once a silver bullet against bacterial pathogens, has led to many pathogens today being resistant to antibiotics. According to a study by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), 670,000 people in the EU are infected by antibiotic-resistant pathogens every year – around 33,000 people die from them every year [1]. In addition, hardly any new antibiotics are approved, which is why experts have long been talking about the post-antibiotic era.

Despite all medical advances, the diagnosis and therapy of sepsis, which is usually treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics, is a particular challenge. It is estimated that in Germany alone about 150,000 people suffer from sepsis every year, and between 30 and 50 percent of patients die from the consequences of "blood poisoning".

[1] https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/Infekt/Antibiotikaresistenz/Uebersichtsbeitraege/AMR_Europa.html, https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/news-events/33000-people-die-every-year-due-infections-antibiotic-resistant-bacteria, https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(18)30605-4/fulltext, downloaded on April 8, 2020

 

 

Fraunhofer vs. Corona

Working at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic, Fraunhofer experts are supporting the efforts of industry and society to cope with the immediate effects and the consequences to come.

 

Prevention

ELPEDES – H2O2 for disinfection

Electrolytic production of H2O2 for the decentralized, self-sufficient production of disinfectants for own use.

The aim is a plant in which an H2O2 solution is electrolytically produced, which can be stored in facilities that require disinfectants (e.g. hospitals) or operated continuously. The concept is supported by an equipment supplier for medical technology.

 

Prevention

PAPR – Modular air-purifying respirator

Development of a reusable powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) for infection control of medical personnel.

In order to realize the project, competences in additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping, medical engineering and membrane/filter technology were bundled at Fraunhofer IGB.

 

Prevention

CoroVacc – Attenuated SARS-CoV-2 vaccine

Development of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine based on attenuated carrier viruses.

Due to a modular approach by the Fraunhofer Institutes IGB and IZI, the carrier virus can be developed with SARS-CoV-2 specific antigens at short notice and tested with regard to its vaccination effect.

 

Prevention

ViProTeFa – Development and establishment of a virus protection test facility

The Fraunhofer Institutes IPA and IGB want to establish a worldwide unique test facility for the qualification of protection devices and measures. The aim is the standardized testing of protective equipment and cleaning processes and the development of a widely applicable standard or norm.

 

Prevention

AVATOR

Thermal inactivation of aerosol-borne viruses

 

Aerosols pose an increased risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2. This is where the "Virus Grill" project comes in: By inactivating viruses through heating the air, the probability of infection via droplets suspended in the ambient air is to be reduced.

 

Prevention

Demo-medVer

Mobile test platforms for use in developing and emerging countries

 

The risk of further rapid spread of COVID-19 is particularly high in many developing and emerging countries due to inadequate hygienic conditions. Fraunhofer researchers are developing autonomous, fully and partially mobile platforms for testing for SARS-CoV-2 suitable for slums, refugee camps, urban and rural areas. 

 

Diagnostics

CoSE-Jump Start – Rapid detection test for self-testing

Corona rapid test for self-testing, based on an amplification-free detection of the SARS-CoV-2 genome.

The SARS-CoV-2 rapid test is designed so that it can be carried out independently by a non-professional user without the involvement of a third party. It is therefore suitable for third world countries.

 

 

Diagnostics

CoV‑2‑KomET

High-throughput diagnostics of SARS-CoV-2 with next-generation sequencing

 

The current test capacities for SARS-CoV-2 are limited due to the special PCR devices. Fraunhofer researchers therefore want to develop, validate and test a nucleic acid-based high-throughput method to increase the sample throughput by at least one order of magnitude compared to the standard method.

 

Drug development

ISE-CoV-2-Screen – Screening and testing

Identification of therapeutic substances for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

Fraunhofer IGB and the Fraunhofer Project Center for Drug Discovery and Delivery @ Hebrew University will use computational chemistry (Iterative Stochastic Elimination, ISE) to identify already approved molecules that block the penetration of the virus and evaluate them with a number of already established and new test systems.

 

Drug development

C19 Lung-on-chip for non-clinical testing

Drug repurposing using a SARS-CoV-2 infection model in an immunocompetent lung-on-a-chip platform.

The model is used to test the efficacy of drug candidates identified at Fraunhofer IME. For this purpose, Fraunhofer IGB, IZI and IME combine competences in conducting pharmaceutical studies in human OoC and in establishing infection models.

 

Drug development

DRECOR

DRECOR-Drug delivery systems for drug candidates targeting SARS-CoV-2

 

With the "repurposing" of already approved drugs, new options for the treatment of COVID-19 can be provided relatively quickly. To improve the efficacy of such drug candidates, Fraunhofer IGB and FIP_DDD@HUJI are developing nanoparticular systems for targeted drug delivery at the site of infection.

Together against Corona – our offer for collaboration

Prevention – Sterilization, disinfection, vaccine development

To prevent infectious diseases and the spread of pathogens, hygiene precautions and vaccinations are essential measures.

For this purpose, the IGB is developing processes for sterilization and disinfection using UV and plasma technologies as well as an electrochemical cell for decentralized production of H2O2 for disinfection.

A physical inactivation process was established for vaccine development. In addition, a virus engineering platform is available to generate recombinant viral vectors that effectively stimulate the immune system and have intrinsic adjuvant properties. Virus-like particles that mimic viruses serve as potent vaccines as well as versatile biocontainer for drug delivery.

Strategies against biofilms are based on antimicrobial surfaces and the use of bacteriophages.

 

Diagnosis – Based on nucleic acids and immune receptors

For the diagnosis of viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites, new sequencing technologies offer an open platform able to identify all pathogens with high specificity. For sepsis pathogens, the diagnosis was validated in a clinical study using next-generation sequencing.

A nucleic acid-based lateral flow assay (NALFA) has been developed for the detection of pathogens using the Herpes simplex virus 1 as an example and can be performed without any laboratory infrastructure.

We also produce diagnostic DNA microarrays for pathogen detection on behalf of customers.

In addition, pathogens and their components can be detected and identified using various TLR immunoreceptors via cell-based assays. A rapid test based on the principle of a lateral flow immunoassay (Immustick) is currently being developed with partners.

 

Drug development – Bacteriophages and test systems

As an alternative to the treatment of infectious diseases with antibiotics, the IGB is working on the engineering and production of bacteriophages.

To search for (new) active substances, the IGB offers cell-based screening systems and 3D immunocompetent skin models as test systems for active substances and the investigation of infection mechanisms.

The "reporter skin" is a patented system for the rapid optical detection of immune reactions.

For the preclinical safety testing of substances and materials we maintain a certified GLP test facility of test category 9: "Cell-based test systems for determining biological parameters".

 

Prevention

  • Sterilization processes
  • Decentralized production of H2O2
  • Vaccines: Inactivation, engineering
  • Coatings and bacteriophages against biofilms
 

Diagnostics

  • Next-generation diagnostics
  • Rapid test for pathogen detection
  • Microarray technologies
  • Pathogen detection using immune receptors
 

Drug development

  • Bacteriophages
  • Screening systems
  • 3D immune competent skin models
  • "Reporter skin" for detection of immune reactions