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Projects funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research – BMBF

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) supports innovative ideas through thematic and open-topic funding programs. BMBF-funded collaborative projects are characterized by a high degree of innovation from a scientific and technological perspective and high prospects of success for subsequent exploitation.

BMBF-funded projects at the DRFZ

A chemokine checkpoint accelerant for the treatment of solid tumor disease – A CAR T cell chemokine checkpoint accelerant (CONAN)

Since May 1, 2021, the DRFZ is involved in the BMBF collaborative project A chemokine checkpoint accelerant for the treatment of solid tumor disease – A CAR T cell chemokine checkpoint accelerant (CONAN). The cooperation partners are the BIH Center for Regenerative Therapies (BCRT) and the company CheckImmune GmbH.

The aim of the consortium is to use genetically engineered T cells (CAR-T cells) to fight solid tumours. These CARs recognise specific surface molecules on the cancer cells and thus enable their own immune system to fight them. However, the targeted transport of CARs into the tumour remains a major hurdle in their implementation. With the help of the CXCR3 chemokine system, the CAR-T cells should migrate specifically into the tumor tissue.

Mir Farzin-Mashreghi leads the subproject “Identifying novel targets of the CXCR3-ligand pathway”

To adapt the CXCR3 system for CAR T cell products (CONAN) CONAN-modified T-cell products will be characterized and  the CXCR3 variants, CAR expression and their functionality will be analyzed, The variants will also be verified by scRNA sequencing. Furthermore, the researchers seek to identify novel targets for inducing a native expression state of CONAN in primary T cells that could be utilized for adoptive CAR immunotherapy.

Mir-Farzin Mashreghi

Link to BMBF

German Centre for Child and Adolescent Health (DZKJ)

The DRFZ is involved in the new German Centre for Child and Adolescent Health (DZKJ).

The Berlin DZKJ site comprises a network of clinically and scientifically experts from the Charité, the Berlin Institute of Health at the Charité (BIH), the MDC and the DRFZ.

Experts from a wide range of disciplines work together at the DZKJ to provide holistic care for acutely and chronically ill children and adolescents according to the latest scientific findings with the aim of improving the prevention, diagnosis and therapy of severe diseases in childhood and adolescence.

German Centres for Health Research are networks with sites distributed throughout Germany. The aim is to be able to fight common diseases better and to bring research results into practice more quickly. To this end, the German Centres for Health Research combine basic research with clinical research as well as with prevention and health care research. The centres are jointly funded by the BMBF and the Länder where the sites are located.

PIs at DRFZ:

Kirsten Minden, Tilmann Kallinich and Mir-Farzin Mashreghi, Andreas Diefenbach

TARISMA (Targeted Risk Management in Musculoskeletal Diseases)

In the research network TARISMA, DRFZ epidemiologists are investigating which concomitant diseases are particularly common in people with rheumatic diseases, how they differ from age- and gender-matched people in the general population and whether there has been a change in frequency and severity within the last 10 years.

PIs at DRFZ:
Angela Zink and Katinka Albrecht

ICON – Inception Cohort of newly diagnosed patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis

Within this consortium  11 paediatric rheumatology centres across Germany collaborate with each other to collect extensive data from newly diagnosed patients with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.

Angela Zink and Kirsten Minden


COACH - Chronic Conditions in Adolescents: Implementation and Evaluation of Patient-centred Collaborative Healthcare

The aim of the consortium is to develop and evaluate a graduated interdisciplinary care model for chronically diseased children and adolescents suffering from diabetes, cystic fibrosis or chronic rheumatism. The aim is to better describe the psychological stress associated with these chronic diseases and to improve early diagnosis. The task of the DRFZ sub-project is to identify psychological comorbidities in adolescents and young adults with juvenile idiopathic arthritis and to identify additional support needs in this often difficult phase of life in dealing with the disease.

Kirsten Minden


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