The Bavarian Research Foundation is funding five research projects on Covid-19

The Technical University of Munich (TUM) is starting five new research projects that focus on the coronavirus and the search for new active ingredients. Researchers from the TUM School of Life Sciences are involved in two of the total of five projects. The Bavarian Research Foundation (BFS) is funding the projects with around € 1.5 million.

Research of the scientists on Covid-19.

Scientists of the TUM are conducting laboratory and computer research on the classification and therapy of Covid-19. (Image: Andreas Heddergott / TUM).

With their own funding focus, the Bavarian Research Foundation wants to accelerate research on the novel coronavirus in the state of Bavaria and contribute to the containment and fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Five interdisciplinary TUM project proposals passed the application procedure with success and will now be funded. Researchers of the TUM School of Life Sciences are involved in the following two projects

Screening platform for viral infections

The genome of SARS-CoV-2 is made up of RNA. At the moment, we only know very little about the interactions between the RNA of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the proteins in the human host cells. Each essential interaction for the virus is a potential weak spot which can be impaired in a targeted way with drugs. The aim of this project is to find all the human proteins that interact with SARS-CoV-2 RNA. This will hopefully result in the creation of a screening platform which can be universally applied to all viral infections in the future, and not just SARS-CoV-2, and facilitate a fast and systematic identification of target proteins for the development of drugs.

The project is a collaboration between the work group of Prof. Bernhard Küster (Chair of Proteomics and Bioanalytics, TUM), the work group of Prof. Andreas Pichlmair (Institute for Virology, TUM) and the company OmicScouts GmbH, a mass spectrometry and proteomics company that focuses on active ingredient and biomarker research and that is headquartered in Freising. The BFS has granted € 50,000 of funding for this project.

New approach to diagnosing Covid-19

Covid-19 pulmonary disease typically has two phases. The often milder symptoms during the first week of infection do not give any indication of a possible later clinical deterioration in the second phase which then requires intensive medical treatment. For this reason, there is a lot of interest in molecular biomarkers which could help medical professionals to identify such patients early on. The aim of the project “Extracellular Vesicles for Diagnosing Covid-19” is to identify molecular signatures in the extracellular vesicles circulating in the bloodstream. The biomarkers in the extracellular vesicles allow for an early detection of Covid-19 pneumonia and at-risk patients, and they can also provide indications of inflammation-related vascular damage with risks of thrombosis and embolism.

While the work group of Prof. Michael W. Pfaffl, Chair for Animal Physiology and Immunology at the TUM School of Life Sciences is involved in the project, the project will actually be led by LMU Munich. IMGM Laboratories GmbH, based in Martinsried, is also involved in this project. This project will receive around € 43,000 in funding.

Dr. Katharina Baumeister
Corporate Communications Center, TU München
E-Mail: katharina.baumeister[at]
Phone: + 49 8161.71.5403