They are the substances that may heal, alleviate or prevent more serious illnesses: medicines. Today, they have long since become complex high-tech products. Their development often takes more than a decade and can cost millions. Researchers and developers in the pharmaceutical industry also need to be highly qualified in order to find the medicines of tomorrow using the latest biomedical results and high-tech equipment. But state-of-the-art technology is also indispensable in the development of natural remedies – whether in research or in production.
At the beginning of every medicinal project, researchers and developers have to set important course and answer questions: Which diseases are urgently needed? Has basic research provided new insights that enable more effective drugs or therapies? Can new drugs reduce the side effects of certain therapies?
Even tiny insects are now helping in the search for new active ingredients: Ladybirds as repositories for antibiotics or maggots as ‘bio–surgeons’ and wound healers. Insects possess unimaginable medical abilities, and they can make a contribution to the medicine of the future. And insect biotechnology experts at the new Fraunhofer Institute for Bioresources in Giessen, Germany, have already achieved initial successes in their research.
However, medicines that have already saved millions of lives are in urgent need of replenishment today. Bacterial infections have once again become dangerous and threaten global health, food security and human development. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), approximately 33,000 people die each year in Europe as a direct result of infection by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. To combat this global threat, new antimicrobial drugs must be developed. Researchers in Central Hessen, Germany, are also concentrating on developing new strategies to combat common infectious diseases.
New medicines for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are also in ever-increasing demand due to the increasing number of people affected. Worldwide, more than one billion people in 150 countries suffer from low-income associated and neglected tropical diseases. In Hessen, Germany, the LOEWE DRUID Center, in cooperation with other institutions, is conducting research into new drugs against tropical diseases.
Once vaccines, antibiotics, and other medical ingredients such as hormones and proteins have been developed, they still have to cover a long distance from production to patient. This requires a secure and efficient supply chain – but extremely high demands are also placed on shelf life. One way of doing this is freeze-drying. Preserved in this way, medicines retain their full effectiveness. For example, HOF Sonderanlagenbau GmbH, in Lohra, Central Hessen, develops and installs freeze drying systems all over the world – and can offer the right solution for every new development in the pharmaceutical industry.
Some people experience that their medication suddenly stops relieving symptoms. Or, over the long term, their medications may have strong side effects that might even endanger a patient’s life. In these and many other cases, medical cannabis has increasingly become the focus of clinical and experimental research. In the meantime, certain cannabinoids are used for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases, spasticity, tics and even dementia.
Tiny Health Helpers: How insects help develop new medicines
Small beetles are more productive than you think: They can heal wounds or provide basic substances for the production of antibiotics. That’s why scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute in Giessen, Germany, are researching how these crawling insects can be used in medicine – and how they are already successful.
Research Alliance: In the fight against antibiotic resistance
Researchers in Central Hessen, Germany, are taking up the fight against Antibiotic resistance, including a search for new ways to combat infectious diseases.
The LOEWE Center DRUID: a project to tackle neglected tropical diseases
More and more people are affected by neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). As a result, many countries now recognize the importance of fighting NTDs. The German’s federal state Hessen is also making its contribution. Find out how NTDs are fought in the LOEWE Centre DRUID.
Freeze drying: technology with guaranteed durability
Vaccines, antibiotics, hormones and proteins travel a long way from production to patient. Medicines that are well packaged by freeze drying, retain their full effectiveness.
Medical Cannabis: A last hope for chronic pain
Cannabis is more than a narcotic. The plant relieves pain in chronically ill patients for whom regular therapies are no longer effective. Since 2017, doctors in Germany have been allowed to prescribe medical cannabis legally. But does consumption also entail risks?