Definition of translation
A panel of experts from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines translational research as those research activities which foster the multidirectional integration of basic research, patient-oriented research, and population-based research, with the long-term aim of improving the health of the public1. In that sense, translational research is distinguished from basic research that is performed without thought of practical ends resulting in general knowledge and an understanding of nature and its laws1. Clinical research is patient-oriented research and includes mechanisms of human disease, therapeutic interventions, clinical trials and the development of new technologies.
Translational research, as pursued at TWINCORE, focuses to address clinical needs in the field of infectious disease. By building multidisciplinary research teams integrating clinical and basic researchers it is our objective to channel knowledge arising from basic research into clinical practice that ultimately will help to improve human infectious disease management.
The way to new therapeutic options
Important activities of translational research at TWINCORE include the establishment of new, predictive preclinical models. These systems provide dependable data relevant for clinical trial authorization and for optimal retrieval of appropriate data during preclinical and/or clinical studies. We aim at dissecting molecular mechanisms in health and disease. We investigate how viral and bacterial pathogens infect and propagate in humans, how pathogens develop drug resistance, and how immune responses control human infections. Additionally, we identify new biomarkers and develop novel diagnostics. Thereby, we identify potential targets for new therapies and we find new ways to make informed treatment decisions and to tailor current therapeutic options.
Twinning research formats
This kind of translational research benefits from interdisciplinary efforts between basic researchers, clinicians and scientists of biotech companies and/or pharmaceutical industry. Therefore, at TWINCORE twinning research formats, i.e. co-operations between clinicians and basic researchers, are particularly favored. This approach attracts local clinical researchers to get involved in translational research, to develop their own research profiles and - ideally at some point in their career - to establish their own research groups. Moreover, this interaction helps to focus our research on questions directly relevant to human health. Our tight bonds to local clinicians create the environment that permits use of human samples and patient material from defined cohorts. On these grounds, for instance we use primary human immune cells to dissect disease mechanisms important for human disease.
Our Focus: the human beeing
The future establishment of the Clinical Research Center (CRC) will provide access to samples of healthy individuals participating in interventional early clinical studies. Furthermore, materials of the cohort study soon will become available to learn about disease burden in the population and relevant pathogens. These novel opportunities will guide and develop our focus on applied medically relevant human diseases and thus reinforce translational research at TWINCORE.
1 Rubio DM, Schoenbaum EE, Lee LS, Schteingart DE, Marantz PR, Anderson KE, Platt LD, Baez A, Esposito K (2010) Defining translational research: implications for training. Acad Med 85(3): 470-475.