Innovations and products
Max Planck Innovation has accompanied over 4,300 inventions from the various Max Planck Institutes and concluded more than 2,600 commercial contracts. Some of these projects have already reached market maturity. We have summarized certain examples from the various industries for you.
Stefan W. Hell, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen has been awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry. His inventions in the field of high-resolution microscopy have already been translated into successful products and are used in biological and medical research.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has become a routine procedure used all over the world for examining the inner organs of patients. It is non-invasive and has the advantage over X-ray imaging that patients are not exposed to radiation. Thanks to the FLASH technology (Fast Low Angle Shot) which was invented by Jens Frahm and his team at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, MRI is the most important imaging method in clinical diagnostics today. A recently by Mr. Frahm developed extension now even allows real-time movies from the inside of the body and is currently being tested for use in the clinic.
RNA interference (RNAi) is the natural gene-silencing process that arises in numerous organisms ranging from plants to mammals. This mechanism controls the expression of individual genes in a cell. The expression or conversion of genes into proteins can be influenced with the help of the RNAi procedure developed by Thomas Tuschl and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen. This enables the switching off of specific genes so that the information they contain is not passed on. The procedure thus represents a very promising approach to the treatment of various diseases, such as metabolic disorders and cancer. Since 2018 Alnylam´s ONPATTRO™ is the first RNAi drug on the market worldwide.
Sutent® is a cancer drug with a specifc mechanism of action: by simultaneously blocking several molecular targets (so-called multi-specificity) of essential importance for the onset of cancer it addresses the complexity of tumorigenesis in a very efficient manner.
Prof. Dr. Lothar Willmitzer and his fellow scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology play a leading role in the research of signaling pathways and metabolic processes in plant cells. Their work is not only essential for basic research; it also has great economic importance, as it contributes to the development of new plant varieties.
In the Semiconductor Laboratory of the Max Planck Society in Munich, scientists from the Max Planck Institutes for Physics and for Extraterrestrial Physics are developing detectors based on silicon chips, among them highly sensitive X-ray detectors for astrophysics as well as so-called tracking detectors able to track the paths of particles in particle accelerators.
Worldwide, tons of proteins are produced in so-called fermenters by bacteria and other microorganisms on a daily basis in labs and production sites. However, separation and purification of the desired protein is costly and time consuming. The Strep-tag technology invented by Prof. Dr Arne Skerra and Dr Thomas Schmidt at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysics in Frankfurt enables the separation and purification of a desired protein in a single step.
Ceramic pigments are widely used, usually as fine particles, as colourings for paint, plastics, and other materials. However there still is strong demand for pigments with high brilliancy that are also inexpensive, resistant to light and heat, non-toxic and environmentally friendly.
The so-called Ti-Plasmid (Ti stands for tumour-inducing) is a small, circular DNA molecule common among bacterial pests in plants (e.g. Agrobacterium tumefaciens). The bacteria transfer the plasmid into plant cells resulting in genetic modifications that trigger the development of plant tumours. In the 1970s, Prof. Dr Marc van Montagu and Prof. Dr Jozef Schell of the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne developed the concept of using the Ti-Plasmid to introduce novel genes into plants by replacing the gene responsible for tumour development with the desired gene.
The short tandem repeat (STR) technology was invented as a novel DNA analysis method at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, by Prof. Dr Diethard Tautz and Prof. Dr Herbert Jäckle. It is used worldwide for identity determination in paternity tests or in criminalistics.