Sites of the Helmholtz Centre
The Sites of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research are distributed all over Germany. In addition to the main campus in Braunschweig, there are facilities in 4 other cities: Hamburg, Hanover, Saarbrücken and Würzburg.
Resistance to antibiotics has become one of the major global challenges regarding infectious diseases. This is specifically the issue that is being tackled by the new Helmholtz-Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS). The institute has been founded in August 2009 on the Saarbrücken campus jointly by the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig and Saarland University, with the goal to contribute to the developing new pharmaceuticals and therapies against infectious diseases.
The scientists at HIPS search for novel drugs and improve their application to humans. Furthermore they explore the delivery path of the drug to its target. Hence, HZI systematically extends translation research and thus contributes considerably to the health sciences. By this approach, new insights reach the patients faster.
The institute is a branch of HZI and the first public research institute in Germany, that is explicitly devoted to the pharmaceutical sciences. It is by this foundation that the Helmholtz Association, which is the largest research organisation in Germany, now becomes represented in the Saarland, too. HIPS consists of three departments and in the near future three junior research groups. Professor Rolf Müller, besides being the director of the institute, leads of one of the departments, the other two are headed by Prof. Anna Hirsch and Prof. Claus‑Michael Lehr.
Focus on the development of new anti-infectives
Research at HIPS focuses on the development of new anti-infectives: Rolf Müller focuses on microbial active agents, primarily from myxobacteria (Department MINS, Microbial Natural Products), Anna Hirschs’s research is specialized in pharmaceutical and medicinal chemistry (Department DDOP; Drug Design and Optimization), while Claus-Michael Lehr is examining the targeted transport of drugs to the disease’s source (Department DDEL; Drug Delivery). In January 2011, Andriy Luzhetskyy has established the Junior Research Group AMEG (Actinobacteria Metabolic Engineering Group) within MINS. AMEG develops new tools for actinomycete genetics and applies these tools in the genetics of natural products producers.
The range of scientific activities at HIPS comprises genetic and genome-analytic methods for optimizing natural product producers and lead compounds as well as methodologies to improve the transportation of pharmaceutical agents to their target. The combination of the knowledge on infectious diseases and the pharmaceutical research of HZI and HIPS takes a unique position in Germany and Europe, especially regarding the development of anti-infectives.
The complementary expertise allows concerted and synchronous approaches to the discovery and mining of novel producers of potential drugs, their rational improvement and bioprofiling, as well as their optimal formulation. This greatly enhances the chance of identifying and utilizing novel natural products, and accelerates their advancement to clinical studies. The combined research activities and experiences of the scientists at HIPS, HZI and further regional cooperation institutes in drug development allow for the complete coverage in drug development from drug discovery to clinical phase IIa studies. A successful implementation of translational research is thus achieved.