Next-generation diagnostics

The diagnosis of infectious diseases is based mainly on microbiological techniques. The cultivation of pathogens in the laboratory, however, is a time-consuming process and some pathogens cannot be cultivated at all or only under special conditions.

For this reason, we develops innovative molecular methods for pathogen diagnostics based on molecular analyses of the genetic information of pathogens. The new technology avoids time-consuming cultivation procedures and makes possible the detection of all pathogens: viruses, parasites and bacteria that do not grow on the culture media used. This not only makes the diagnosis faster, but also significantly more reliable.

The Functional Genomics group at Fraunhofer IGB has extensive experience in the indications of sepsis, endocarditis, amniotic fluid infections, as well as in biomarker screening, the genome characterization of pathogens and microbial studies (e.g. on the skin).

A recent clinical study in collaboration with the University Hospital Heidelberg has shown that significantly more sepsis pathogens were identified in a more reliable manner with this new sequencing technology compared to blood cultures, and that these results would have had a direct effect on the treatment and survival rate of the patients.

Erfolgreiche Translation in die Klinik

Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Thorsten Brenner
© Universitätsklinikum Essen
Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Thorsten Brenner, MHBA; Universitätsklinikum Essen, Klinikdirektor der Klinik für Anästhesiologie und Intensivmedizin

»Vor mehr als acht Jahren haben wir uns gemeinsam mit dem Innovationsfeld In-vitro-Diagnostik des Fraunhofer IGB unter der Leitung von Dr. Kai Sohn auf die Reise gemacht, um die Erregerdiagnostik bei Patienten mit einer sogenannten Sepsis, die man umgangssprachlich auch gerne als Blutvergiftung bezeichnet, maßgeblich zu optimieren.

Hierfür wurde in einem mehrstufigen Bench-to-Bedside-Ansatz eine Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS)-basierte Technologie vom initialen Proof-of-Concept bis hin zu einem kommerziell verfügbaren diagnostischen Produkt weiterentwickelt, welches mittlerweile in der klinischen Routine angekommen ist.

Diese Erfolgsgeschichte war nur dadurch möglich, dass sich Wissenschaftler aus der Klinik und Forscher des Fraunhofer IGB auf Augenhöhe begegnet sind und gemeinsam das Ziel verfolgt haben, die Versorgung von Patienten mit Sepsis verbessern zu wollen.«


NGS-based sepsis diagnostics

We also apply our innovative molecular diagnostic method by analyzing genetic information to identify pathogens. The new technology avoids lengthy cultivation procedures and is open to all pathogens: viruses, parasites and bacteria. Diagnosis is therefore not only faster but also much more reliable.


Bioinformatics workflows for precision diagnostics

In precision diagnostics, individual factors are taken into account for the specific treatment of patients. A prerequisite is the evaluation of comprehensive patient data. We develop bioinformatic workflows for automated high-throughput data analysis to identify relevant parameters.


Liquid biopsy using circulating nucleic acids

Nucleic acids circulating in the blood can be used for the diagnosis of complex diseases such as tumors. We are developing and validating new methods for processing circulating nucleic acids for liquid biopsy.


Precision biomarkers

Despite good medical standards, diagnostic procedures for the detection of many diseases are insufficiently up-to-date. We exploit the power of next-generation sequencing for the identification of novel biomarkers, enabling better diagnosis of diseases such as prostate cancer, COPD or infectious diseases.


Fungal infections

The human pathogenic fungus Candida albicans can cause severe infections in patients with compromised immune status. To improve the understanding of the pathogen-host interactions of C. albicans with human cells, different cell biological and molecular biological methods such as infection models and metatranscriptome studies are applied.

Reference projects

CoV‑2‑KomET – High-throughput diagnostics of SARS-CoV-2

Development and validation of a new method for high-throughput diagnostics of respiratory diseases such as Covid