Biochemist Andrea Rentmeister receives Proof of Concept Grant
Funding for research transfer: biochemist Prof. Andrea Rentmeister from the University of Münster has been awarded a Proof of Concept Grant, worth 150,000 euros, from the European Research Council (ERC). The aim of the grant is to help researchers, who have already received funding from the ERC for their pioneering work, to make the results of their work commercially viable. Andrea Rentmeister has developed a method enabling her to use light to control biochemical processes inside living cells. Together with business chemist Prof. Jens Leker, also from Münster University, she will now be working out in the coming months how to turn this method into a marketable product which can be utilised by a wide range of people working in both basic and clinical research.
Rentmeister, who received one of the coveted ERC Consolidator Grants in 2017, is Professor of Biological Chemistry and Biomolecular Label Chemistry at the Institute of Biochemistry, as well as being a member of the Executive Board of the Cells in Motion Interfaculty Centre (CiM) at Münster. Her field of work focuses on so-called messenger RNA (mRNA), which plays a key role in the production of proteins in cells. These molecules have become more widely known among the general public as a result of the first-time approval of mRNA vaccines during the Corona pandemic. Rentmeister uses light in order to activate the mRNA inserted into the cells and thus control the production of proteins in the cells. This new technique is useful for labelling and visualising cells. It might also be possible in future to control the development of cells via the mRNA inserted. The idea is for this completely new tool to be uncomplicated for all interested researchers to use.
Jens Leker contributes to the interdisciplinary project his expertise in the fields of innovation and technology management. “What we now have to do,” he says, “is to find out, in the relatively short time of 12 months, whether it would be worth making this innovative method available to be used in practice. The Proof of Concept Grant is a good format for this purpose. Traditionally, only a few projects make the move from basic research to application. The EU motivates top researchers to think along transfer lines.”
Europe-wide, 166 researchers funded by the ERC were awarded Proof of Concept Grants, 13 of them from Germany. The grants are part of the European research and innovation programme “Horizon Europe”.