Press releases – October 2021

 

Researchers have identified a potential new treatment that suppresses the replication of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. In order to multiply, all viruses, including coronaviruses, infect cells and reprogramme them to produce novel viruses. The research revealed that cells infected with SARS-CoV-2 can only produce novel coronaviruses when their metabolic pentose phosphate pathway is activated.

When applying the drug benfooxythiamine, an inhibitor of this pathway, SARS-CoV-2 replication was suppressed and infected cells did not produce coronaviruses.

The research from the University of Kent's School of Biosciences and the Institute of Medical Virology at Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main, found the drug also increased the antiviral activity of '2-deoxy-D-glucose'; a drug which modifies the host cell's metabolism to reduce virus multiplication.

This shows that pentose phosphate pathway inhibitors like benfooxythiamine are a potential new treatment option for COVID-19, both on their own and in combination with other treatments.

Additionally, Benfooxythiamin's antiviral mechanism differs from that of other COVID-19 drugs such as remdesivir and molnupiravir. Therefore, viruses resistant to these may be sensitive to benfooxythiamin.

Professor Martin Michaelis, University of Kent, said: 'This is a breakthrough in the research of COVID-19 treatment. Since resistance development is a big problem in the treatment of viral diseases, having therapies that use different targets is very important and provides further hope for developing the most effective treatments for COVID-19.'

Professor Jindrich Cinatl, Goethe-University Frankfurt, said: 'Targeting virus-induced changes in the host cell metabolism is an attractive way to interfere specifically with the virus replication process.'


Publication: Denisa Bojkova, Rui Costa, Philipp Reus, Marco Bechtel, Mark-Christian Jaboreck, Ruth Olmer, Ulrich Martin, Sandra Ciesek, Martin Michaelis, Jindrich Cinatl, Jr.: Targeting the pentose phosphate pathway for SARS-CoV-2 therapy. In: Metabolites 2021, 11(10), 699; https://doi.org/10.3390/metabo11100699

Background information: Cell culture model: several compounds stop SARS-CoV-2 virus. Frankfurt researchers discover potential targets for COVID-19 therapy
https://www.goethe-university-frankfurt.de/88382885/Frankfurt_researchers_discover_potential_targets_for_COVID_19_therapy?locale=en


Editor: Dr. Markus Bernards, Science Editor, PR & Communication Department, Tel: -49 (0) 69 798-12498, Fax: +49 (0) 69 798-763 12531, E-Mail: bernards@em.uni-frankfurt.de

 

Oct 22 2021
14:49

Following the decision by the Joint Science Conference on 22 October, the new “NHC South-West Alliance”, to which Goethe University also belongs, will receive grants totalling € 40 million from the national and regional governments.

Goethe University new partner in National High-Performance Computing Alliance

FRANKFURT. As of 22 October, Goethe University is part of the National High-Performance Computing Alliance. The “Joint Science Conference" (GWK) announced its decision today in Bonn. The “NHC South-West Alliance" has been approved and will receive € 124 million over a period of ten years (€ 40 million of which will come from Joint Science Conference funds). The alliance covers three federal states, Hessen, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, with facilities in Frankfurt (Goethe University), Mainz (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JMU)), Kaiserslautern (Technical University of Kaiserslautern) and Saarbrücken (Saarland University). € 45 million are earmarked for the future development of high-performance computing at Goethe University, whose own contribution is € 30 million.

With this decision, the Joint Science Conference is also underlining Goethe University's excellent performance in the area of green IT, for which the Frankfurt team led by Professor Volker Lindenstruth is responsible. Coming in 1st, 2nd and 8th place, supercomputers designed by Lindenstruth have achieved exceptionally good rankings in recent years in the biannual “Green 500" world rankings, on a global scale too. With the grant from the Joint Science Conference, Hessen now has two National High-Performance Computing (NHC) centres.

Professor Enrico Schleiff, President of Goethe University, expressed his delight at the positive decision announced by the Joint Science Conference of the national and regional governments: “This is tremendous acknowledgement of the great and continuous efforts we've been making for over ten years in the development and realisation of energy-saving supercomputers. I thank Volker Lindenstruth's team for their persevering work on the further development of this trailblazing technology, which is meanwhile also a bestseller and in demand worldwide. I would also like to thank our Minister of Science, Angela Dorn, for giving our application her sustained support. With the appointment of further outstanding professors in this field, we will further strengthen this research priority in the coming years and, together with our partners in Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, set important new trends in the further technological development of energy-saving computing systems."

Angela Dorn, Hessian Minister of Science, commended the role of Goethe University in the new alliance: “An alliance makes us stronger because the universities each contribute their own strengths. Professor Volker Lindenstruth and his team at Goethe University have, for example, developed technologies for energy-saving high-performance computers, and the Hessian Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and the Arts (HMWK) has supported this development on a large scale for over 10 years as part of the LOEWE Initiative. I'm pleased and proud that this support has yielded such a sustainable return – above all also for the protection of our environment and the reduction of CO2 emissions. Many a data centre today could heat a small town with its waste heat. In the fight against catastrophic climate change, we must make use of every opportunity to reduce energy consumption – and green IT makes an important contribution here, also in the area of high-performance computing."

Professor Volker Lindenstruth, Professor for High-Performance Computing Architecture at Goethe University and Chairman of the Board of the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS), sees Goethe University's inclusion in the National High-Performance Computing Alliance as an important milestone for further research in Frankfurt in the area of green IT: “As part of the National High-Performance Computing Alliance, it's now even more possible to use the fruits of our research for the benefit of the general public and for more intensive research work. For example, we've accomplished remarkable progress at Goethe University over the last ten years as far as increasing the efficiency of scientific software is concerned. As a result, the same scientific results can be produced with much less energy consumption. Hundredfold increases in computing speed have been achieved for many applications, making even very complex problems calculable for the first time ever. For example, the highly efficient algorithms developed at Goethe University were and are used both in particle physics at CERN as well as at FAIR at the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research."

In addition to the four new centres mentioned above, to date there are also NHC centres in Aachen, Berlin, Dresden, Erlangen-Nuremberg, Göttingen, Karlsruhe, Paderborn and Darmstadt, meaning that from now on all three locations of the alliance of Rhine-Main Universities (RMU) are also part of the alliance.

Background:

High-performance supercomputers are becoming increasingly important in science and research. In view of increasingly complex and large volumes of data, researchers in the widest variety of disciplines are more dependent than ever on high-performance computers. Today, more and more research questions, for example in medicine, physics or chemistry, can only be answered by means of large-scale computing capacities and intelligent applications. That is the reason behind the decision by Germany's national and regional governments in 2018 to establish a nationwide National High-Performance Computing Alliance (NHC) in order to bundle and further develop the existing strengths of high-performance computing centres within a national network. The establishment of a coordinated alliance is a response to the growing demand for high-performance computing by enabling researchers at universities to access the computing capacity they need for their research across Germany and in line with their needs, regardless of their respective locations. Through the National High-Performance Computing Alliance, the technical and methodological strengths of high-performance computing centres will also be further upgraded and better aligned. At the same time, the aim is to introduce a greater number of researchers to high-performance computing through training and continuing education at the nine NHC centres, to enhance the skills of high-performance computing system users and to foster young talent in order to fully utilise the potential of high-performance computers and to strengthen Germany as a location for research and innovation. A total of € 625 million is earmarked for the National High-Performance Computing Alliance over the ten-year funding period.


Editor: Dr. Olaf Kaltenborn, PR & Communication Department, Tel: +49 (0) 69 798-13035, Fax: +49 (0) 69 798-763 12531, kaltenborn@pvw.uni-frankfurt.de

 

Oct 12 2021
12:29

Inaugural lecture of Prof. Dr. Flurina Schneider at Goethe University

First professorship for social ecology and transdisciplinarity in Germany

FRANKFURT. In the winter semester of 2021/22, Flurina Schneider, scientific director of ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research, will take up her professorship for Social Ecology and Transdisciplinarity at Goethe University Frankfurt. The joint professorship of the independent research institute ISOE and the university is the first with this particular focus in Germany. The inaugural lecture “Research for sustainable development – from knowledge processes and options for action" will take place on October 20, 2021 on the Riedberg campus.

Social ecology is still a comparatively young scientific field that has proven central to environmental and sustainability research in recent decades and is now for the first time entering university teaching with a professorship. Social ecology examines the relationships between society and nature and poses the question of how these relationships can be made more sustainable. Particular importance is attached to the role of knowledge processes. “In the search for science-based solutions to challenges such as climate change or biodiversity loss, social ecology, with its transdisciplinary approach, facilitates joint learning processes between science and society. That is why it plays a key role in sustainability research", says Flurina Schneider, who will give her inaugural lecture at Goethe University Frankfurt on October 20, 2021.

Cooperation between ISOE and Goethe University in research, teaching and transfer
In Germany, social ecology was mainly developed by ISOE, which developed this transdisciplinary field of science in terms of their research program. “I am very pleased to take up the first professorship in this important field of science in Germany at Goethe University Frankfurt," says ISOE's scientific director Flurina Schneider. With the joint professorship in Social Ecology and Transdisciplinarity, which was created on the initiative of the independent research institute in Frankfurt and which is part of the Faculty of Biological Sciences, ISOE is intensifying its long-standing cooperation with Goethe University in research, teaching and transfer. Since 2008, ISOE's scientists have been teaching theoretical concepts, methods, and empirical applications of social-ecological research as part of the environmental master's program at Goethe University. 

Anchoring the educational mandate for sustainable development in academic teaching
With the professorship, ISOE and Goethe University are also responding to the growing demand in the field of sustainability research and related research methods. “As a university, we take the mandate to anchor education for sustainable development in our courses of study very seriously," says Enrico Schleiff, president of Goethe University Frankfurt. “We are therefore extremely pleased to have Flurina Schneider, an internationally renowned expert in Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research, as a professor for this chair, which is unique in Germany. Her expertise in scientific principles and methods with respect to socio-ecological transformation processes and sustainable development is not only a great asset for our range of courses, but also for the university as a whole: sustainability as the preservation of natural life-support systems and climate protection is a matter close to our hearts in research, teaching and administration."

A professor with wide-ranging expertise in environmental and sustainability research 
The Swiss sustainability researcher Flurina Schneider has been scientific director of ISOE since April 1, 2021. She is the successor of Thomas Jahn, who co-founded ISOE in 1989. Schneider completed her habilitation in 2016 on the topic of transdisciplinary and transformative research for sustainable governance of natural resources with a view to intra- and intergenerational justice at the University of Bern, where she had been employed as a researcher and head of the Land Resources Research Cluster since 2010. Her scientific activities span broad areas of environmental and sustainability research: from soil-conserving farming systems and quality assurance of eco-products to equity in land and water governance and research projects explicitly addressing the role of transdisciplinary knowledge production in sustainability transformations.

The importance of knowledge in sustainability processes
The role of knowledge in sustainability transformations is Flurina Schneider's key research and teaching priority. She will address this topic also in her inaugural lecture. “It is crucial to understand the mechanisms by which scientific knowledge translates into societal action and what types of knowledges are needed for social-ecological transformations to actually succeed," says Schneider. She will also focus on issues of environmental justice between the generations, as well as between countries in the global North and South. “I'm really looking forward to giving students access to all the complex issues and challenges of sustainability research."


Inaugural lecture of Prof. Dr. Flurina Schneider 
“Research for sustainable development – from knowledge processes and options for action"
Date: October 20, 2021, time: start at 1 pm, location: Lecture Hall 2 of the Otto Stern Center on the Riedberg Campus of Goethe University Frankfurt.

Scientific contact:
Prof. Dr. Flurina Schneider
Tel. +49 69 7076919-0
flurina.schneider(at)isoe.de  

Press contact:
Melanie Neugart
Tel. +49 69 7076919-51
neugart(at)isoe.de 


Editor: Dr. Dirk Frank, PR & Communication Department, Tel: +49 (0) 69 798–13753, frank@pvw.uni-frankfurt.de