There were exciting lectures, interesting panel discussions, workshops, and exhibitions. The day vividly demonstrated the diverse research areas at NIFE and gave employees insightful insights.
It is planned to continue the Research Day in the coming years in order to further strengthen the visibility of the different disciplines and to promote interdisciplinary contacts.
On 25.08.2022 Prof. Spranger gave a lecture on "The enigma of ethics committees" for students of biochemistry and for NIFE staff. He brought in many illustrative examples from his own experience. Afterwards, this topic, which has become increasingly complex in recent years and therefore very burdensome for scientists, was discussed with great enthusiasm ("Top 10 of the "all-time classics"). The lecture was held as part of the event series "Development of Cell Therapeutics: Experimental Applications and Clinical Use of Adult Stem Cells", organized by Prof. Dr. Andrea Hoffmann.
Prof. Spranger (Prof.Spranger) is a jurist, lawyer and head of a center for the regulation of modern life sciences. At the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms University in Bonn, he teaches public law and the law of biotechnology, and at the University of Düsseldorf he teaches medical law. As a lawyer, he advises companies, regulatory authorities, research institutions and associations in particular on the evaluation of the latest technical developments.
Prof. Dr. Boris Chichkov from the Institute of Quantum Optics was awarded an ERC Advanced Grant. He is a scientist and member of the Cluster of Excellence QuantumFrontiers and also a member of the Cluster of Excellence PhoenixD.
The ERC Advanced Grant funding line of the European Research Council (ERC) is aimed at established scientists with a longstanding outstanding scientific curriculum vitae who wish to open up new fields of research.
Prof. Dr. Boris Chichkov conducts research on laser biofabrication of 3D multicellular tissue with vascular network (Laser Tissue Perfuse).
Fabrication of three-dimensional vascularised organs is one of the most significant unsolved challenges in the field of biofabrication and tissue engineering. Blood vessels enable the transport of gas, nutrients and metabolites to and from cells and are therefore a basic requirement for the survival of biological tissue - both in vitro and in vivo - following transplantation. In order to reproduce the complexity and structure of functional circulatory systems (arteries and veins, as well as micrometre-sized arterioles, venules and capillaries), new procedures need to be developed for high-resolution, multi-level biological constructs. Research into new approaches involving laser-based bioprinters and two-photon polymerisation is being conducted to achieve this. This unique combination of methods is expected to enable the production of complex vascular networks for the first time.
On 08.07.2022 the first Science Day of the Clinic for Trauma Surgery took place at NIFE (Lower Saxony Center for Biomedical Engineering, Implant Research and Development). The aim of the science day was to give the staff* of the clinic an overview of the research activities from basic science to clinical projects. The participation of other NIFE research groups was particularly gratifying. Through this networking, the science can be made much more accentuated and optimal.
All in all, numerous project groups presented themselves on this day, some of them with outstanding and, above all, forward-looking projects for trauma surgery.
Amputated, severely damaged extremities - for example as a result of accidents on the road, at work or even at home - pose major challenges for surgery in the care of these patients, who often suffer life-threatening injuries. Only a few specialized clinics are able to perform autologous replantation, i.e. to sew on these severed limbs in such a way that they are able to function at least to a limited extent afterwards. And this is only possible if the replantation is performed quickly enough, since the limbs can only survive a few hours without a blood supply.
How this so-called ischemia time can be reduced and how the severed limbs can be better cared for until surgery is being investigated by Dr. Bettina Wiegmann of the MHH Clinic for Cardiothoracic, Transplantation and Vascular Surgery (HTTG) and Professor Dr. Kirsten Haastert-Talini, head of the "Peripheral Nerve Regeneration" working group at the MHH Institute of Neuroanatomy and Cell Biology. The research project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Defense with 520,000 euros for an initial two years.
Damage due to lack of oxygen
"Severe limb injuries and traumatic amputations, as well as increasing tumor and vascular diseases, lead to about 56,000 amputations in Germany each year," says Dr. Wiegmann, head of the "Ex-vivo Organ Perfusion" research group at the Lower Saxony Center for Biomedical Engineering, Implant Research and Development (NIFE), where the project is based. In most cases, missing limbs are replaced by prostheses. In the case of traumatically amputated limbs, this is due on the one hand to the lack of expertise of many clinics for the complicated surgical procedure of replantation, in which bone fractures have to be treated, blood vessels reattached and nerves connected. On the other hand, time plays a decisive role, because the severely injured must be stabilized as a matter of priority in order to survive at all. Until then, the limb is kept on ice. "Until the patient is then stable enough for another operation, days can pass," says the physician. "But the extremities don't survive that, because they suffer ischemic damage after a certain amount of time without blood flow, in which the cells die from the lack of oxygen."
Preserve the ability of cells to regenerate
The surgeon is familiar with the problem of limited shelf life without a blood supply from organ transplantation. She was involved in the MHH-led INSPIRE study. This demonstrated that continuous machine flushing with a blood-like perfusion solution at body temperature results in donor lungs being preserved longer and damaged less. "The lungs are ventilated in a transportable organ care system and connected to an artificial blood circuit," Dr. Wiegmann explains. The research team now wants to develop a similar system for preserving the extremities. "However, we first need to find out under what conditions the body's cells retain their regenerative capacity so that the limb actually grows back after replantation," Professor Haastert-Talini emphasizes. The particular challenge here is that the different needs of the various cell types, such as fatty tissue, muscles, skin, connective tissue and nerve cells, must be taken into account.
Construct nerve bridges
As a first step, the scientists are now looking for the ideal perfusion solution that meets the requirements of all cells in terms of nutrient composition, temperature, and flow pressure and velocity. But it is not enough to prepare the extremities optimally and restore blood circulation in the vessels and muscles. The separated nerves must also be restored so that patients can feel and move the arm or leg again in a controlled manner after replantation. "We want to create optimal initial conditions so that the regenerating nerve fibers do not grow in an uncontrolled manner and also develop nerve bridges for an optimized connection," says Professor Haastert-Talini. There are still many unresolved questions to be answered. However, the researchers already have a clear goal in mind: a limb care system that, on the one hand, fits as a practical box in every emergency ambulance and gives severely injured people the chance of a life without amputation and prostheses. On the other hand, it should be possible to use it analogously to solid organ transplantation in the context of allogeneic limb transplantation.
Author: Kirsten Pötzke
Around 15 million people in Germany suffer from hearing disorders. Among the elderly, hearing loss is the most common sensory impairment. But even children and newborns can suffer from hearing loss, such as inner ear deafness. In this case, acoustic signals are not transmitted to the auditory nerve. In this case, inner ear prostheses - so-called cochlear implants (CI) - can help. They stimulate the auditory nerve with the help of electrodes. However, both older and very young patients may still have residual hearing, especially in the range of low tones.
Professor Dr. Waldo Nogueira Vazquez, head of the hearing prosthetics research group at the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at Hannover Medical School (MHH), wants to find out how residual hearing can be assessed and preserved more accurately, how electrical stimulation by the CI interacts with acoustic signal conduction, and how a new type of hearing prosthesis can be developed from these findings. For his project "READIHEAR ", the scientist has now received the "ERC Consolidator Grant" from the European Research Council (ERC), one of the European Union's highest scientific grants for excellence. He will be supported with a total of around two million euros over five years.
Determine and preserve residual hearing
If residual hearing is present, hearing aids and CI can be used simultaneously in the same ear. In this concept of combined electric-acoustic stimulation (EAS), the hearing aid amplifies the low frequencies acoustically, while the CI stimulates the mid and high frequency ranges electrically. The Inner ear processes the acoustic and electrical stimuli simultaneously. The disadvantage: When inserting the CI, the very sensitive structures of the cochlea and thus also the residual hearing can be damaged. The scientist now wants to develop objective diagnostic instruments that determine how much hearing potential is present in the first place, especially in newborns, and that simultaneously monitor low-frequency hearing during insertion.
Interaction between hearing aid and cochlear implant
In order to then optimally match residual hearing and CI, Professor Nogueira Vazquez plans to study the basic interaction mechanisms between electrical and acoustic stimulation across the entire auditory pathway from the cochlea to the auditory cortex in the brain. "In addition, READIHEAR will test a novel hearing prosthesis that takes advantage of the interaction mechanisms between acoustic and electrical stimulation through minimally invasive electrodes," he explains. These will then no longer be located deep inside the cochlea, as is currently the case, but at the entrance or even completely outside. "Hearing loss significantly impairs the exchange of information and can cause frustration, loneliness and isolation for those affected," says Professor Nogueira Vazquez. The new developments will benefit a large number of people with hearing loss across the lifespan, he believes. "This includes young children, who will benefit from improved hearing diagnostics, to the elderly, who will be helped by the new gentler EAS technology to treat their age-related hearing loss."
Keyword Cochlear Implant: In cases of inner ear deafness or profound hearing loss, a cochlear implant (CI) can help. The prerequisite is that the auditory nerve itself is still intact. The CI captures sound waves from outside via a microphone, converts them into electrical signals and transmits them to electrodes in the cochlea. These stimulate various sections of the auditory nerve, which then transmits the stimuli to the brain, where the actual auditory impression is created.
More information can be obtained from Professor Dr. Waldo Nogueira Vazquez, firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone (0511) 532-8025.
Reference book is aimed at experts and students from different disciplines
A new standard work on neuroprostheses has been published by ENT professors Andrej Kral and Hannes Maier of Hannover Medical School together with Dr. Felix Aplin: "Prostheses for the Brain" is the title of the book, which is aimed equally at doctoral students and young scientists from technical and biological disciplines, as well as neuroscientists, engineers and physicians entering the field of neuroprosthetics.
Neuroprosthetics are used in the field of sensory prostheses (with cochlear implants, retinal implants and brainstem implants), but also in the field of motor (deep brain stimulation), in the spinal cord (in e.g. spinal stimulation for pain relief), in the experimental field of cerebral cortex implants (e.g. in paraplegia and in blindness). Neuroprosthetics has successfully mastered clinical translation in several areas, is a rapidly growing field of medicine. It is estimated that 1 million people worldwide already use neuroprostheses in their daily lives today.
The MHH authors provide a multidisciplinary introduction to artificial nerve stimulation. "Until now, no systematic introductory compilation of findings on principles and applications of neuroprostheses existed. Since many neuroprostheses are already in clinical use, such a synthesis is essential for the new generation of scientists and clinicians who are increasingly confronted with them in their field of work. The different fields of application can learn a lot from each other," reports Prof. Dr. Dr. Andrej Kral.
The authors review the technology of electrodes for registration and artificial stimulation of nerve tissue, safety limits and their determination, and describe the most clinically successful neuroprostheses such as the cochlear implant, brainstem implant, deep brain stimulation and spinal implants. The authors also present new developments in the field of retinal neuroprostheses, vestibular neuroprostheses, implants for control of extremities but also in stimulation of peripheral nerves. This gives the reader a comprehensive overview of the principles and applications of neuroprostheses. The book sets realistic expectations, both in terms of potentials and limitations for safety, design, and outcomes.
Prostheses for the Brain - Introduction to Neuroprosthetics
Authors: Andrej Kral, Felix Aplin, Hannes Maier
eBook ISBN: 9780128188934
Paperback ISBN: 9780128188927
Publisher: Academic Press
Published: April 3, 2021
You can also find more information about the book online:
The ENT Clinic of the MHH is internationally known for the world's largest cochlear implant program for the care of hearing impaired patients. The first CI operation was performed here as early as 1984. In 2003, the German Hearing Center Hannover was opened. Other areas of focus include the provision of hearing aids and their further development, the early detection of childhood hearing loss, and the diagnosis and treatment of sensorineural hearing loss, including tinnitus. The treatment of patients is based on close cooperation between the ENT clinic, DHZ, acousticians, product manufacturers and scientists up to the development of new medical products.