Background and History

Immunological Research in Mainz

The immunological research of the University Medical Center at Johannes Gutenberg University has enjoyed international renown for over 30 years. Interdisciplinary collaboration between basic science and clinical institutes is close and well-established. Cutting-edge research and applied studies are combined to elucidate immune mechanisms of disease and to modulate immunity in autoimmune diseases, allergy, cancer, and infectious diseases.

Translating scientific concepts into clinical applications is a major contemporary challenge in medical health care. Expiring patents, empty pipelines and the increasing complexity of product development in an emerging era of individualized medicine mean that even large pharmaceutical companies are not able to address these challenges alone. At the same time, increasing regulatory requirements and costs have seen public research institutions virtually suspend the clinical translation of new scientific insight. Here in Mainz, we believe mastering these challenges is possible through cooperation between our first-rate research institute and private companies specializing in innovative product development.

Over the last few years, local innovations have led to a number of new spin-off companies located at the Mainz Immuno Hub, several of which are now among Germany’s leading biotech start-ups. The initiative was boosted by the cluster of excellence Ci3 Cluster of IndividualizedImmunoIntervention, funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research. The cluster has extended the already established collaborative structures in Mainz by bringing together the skills and know-how of research institutions, medical centers, biotechnology firms and pharmaceutical companies in the entire Rhein-Main area. The local University Center for Tumor Diseases (UCT) in Mainz connects all available cancer research and treatment institutes, from basic research to clinical and epidemiological studies. The UCT is also a member of the Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC)-Network, which pools expertises and interactions of centers of excellences in oncology sponsored by the Deutsche Krebshilfe. This network enables important cooperation with clinical partners to become involved in academic studies and investigator initiated studies. Moreover, the Association for Cancer Immunotherapy (CIMT), an internationally leading research communication platform based at the Mainz Immuno Hub, is promoting national and international networking by facilitating exchange between cancer researchers, regulatory experts and academic and private enterprise decision-makers to advance cancer immunotherapy.

The future of drug development lies in combining basic and clinical research with commercial development. Interweaving the research and development of different stakeholders will expedite the development process and maximize the bidirectional flow of insight between basic research and the clinical testing of new treatment modalities. Although managing the interface between scientific and technological innovation and traditional product development is complex and multi-layered, it is also one of the key requirements for the success of such a public-private partnership.

In order to address these challenges in treatment development by interfacing between public and private stakeholders and bridging the gap between scientific ideas and mature product development, TRON was founded in 2010 as a non-profit limited liability company. Its co-founders are the state Rhineland-Palatinate, the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, the University Medical Center Mainz, Prof. Ugur Sahin, and Prof. Christoph Huber, who continues to advise the organization in its goals. TRON’s scientific founder, Prof. Ugur Sahin, was also appointed Managing Director. In July 2011, Michael Föhlings joined TRON as Managing Director Finance and Administration.

TRON is located at the Technologiezentrum Mainz, facilitating close interaction with local basic researchers and clinical scientists. Our laboratories are equipped with cutting-edge instrumentation including next-generation sequencing platforms NovaSeq 6000 and MiSeq. Our research laboratories are state-of-the-art, with modern core facilities and an optimized study infrastructure for early and late stage clinical trials.