The Competence Centre Molecular Medicine is divided into the following sections:
The Competence Centre Molecular Medicine uses modern molecular biological methods and biobanking to address a wide range of issues facing the accident insurance institutions and occupational medicine in general. An important objective is the development of new methods for the early detection, diagnosis, and ultimately also treatment of occupational diseases. In this context, the (secondary) prevention of occupational cancer, which has a tremendous impact upon affected insured individuals, is a particular focus of the research activity. Effective and minimally invasive early detection is a valuable addition to the traditional methods of follow-up examinations.
The competence center studies specific effects of hazardous substances upon genes and their regulation, and thus the mechanisms of cancer development. Cutting-edge analysis methods are employed in order to identify specific patterns in gene expression and new biomarkers for early detection of cancer, with a priority on biomarker validation in large-scale prospective studies which includes the establishment of a large biobank of prediagnostic samples. A further research focus lies upon the relationship between sequence variations in the genes of enzymes metabolizing foreign substances, and susceptibility to occupational hazardous substances.
Mechanistic findings from research into cancer and harmful substances also play an important part in the classification of carcinogenic substances and the definition of threshold values. As a result, expertise and the latest findings from research into molecular interrelationships can be channeled directly into regulatory committees, such as the MAK Commission of the German Research Foundation (DFG).
The acquisition of sufficient and suitable samples from exposed subjects and the interpretation of complex findings gained from these samples requires close cooperation with the other competence centers and international partners. Together with all other competence centers, interdisciplinary approaches are pursued regarding early detection of cancer by biomarkers in follow-up examinations for employees formerly exposed to hazardous occupational agents. In cooperation with partners in Australia, Mexico, Greece and other countries, a large network for improving diagnosis of mesotheliomas has been established. The successful development of a new blood test for mesotheliomas has resulted from these collaborative activities.
Georg Johnen, Dr. rer. nat.
Tel. +49 30 13001-4350