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Successful Leibniz Conference on Bioactive Compounds 2017

Bild 1: Dr. Selene Mogavero (HKI) receives the Leibniz Drug of the Year award. Bild 2: From left to right: Dr. Dirk Janasek (ISAS), Prof. Dr. Axel Brakhage (HKI), Prof. Dr. Ludger Wessjohann (IPB), Prof. Dr. Jon Clardy (Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA).

On April 10 and 11, 2017, scientists of the Leibniz Research Alliance Bioactive Compounds and Biotechnology met for the annual Leibniz Conference on Bioactive Compounds. This year's meeting took place at the German Research Centre for Food Chemistry in Freising (Germany), which together with the IPB is one of 19 Leibniz Institutes constituting this Leibniz Research Alliance. During talks and poster sessions, the participants shared about topics ranging from drug discovery and development, to medical and non-medical applications, as well as process development and translation from academia to industry.

Prof. Dr. Jimmy Orjala from the University of Illinois, USA, gave a keynote lecture on cultured cyanobacteria as a source for new biologically active molecules. Furthermore, the excellent research work done by Prof. Dr. Jon Clardy from Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA, was awarded the Leibniz Research Award. Clardy investigates the biological function of natural products - ranging from extraction from uncultured bacteria over structure elucidation to mode-of-action-studies.

As every year, also the Leibniz Drug of the Year prize was awarded during the conference. Four scientists from two Leibniz Insitutes, Dr. Duncan Wilson, Dr. Selene Mogavero and Prof. Bernhard Hube from Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology - Hans Knoell Institut Jena (HKI), as well as Prof. Thomas Gutsmann from Research Center Borstel Leibniz-Center for Medicine and Biosciences (FZB) were awarded the prize for their discovery of the fungal toxin Candidalysin.

Candidalysin is produced by a fungus called Candida albicans. While many people carry this fungus in a harmless form on their skin and mucosae, it can cause severe infections in immuno-compromised persons. The cause for the tissue damage that occurs in C.albicans infections was unknown until researchers identified the toxic compound Candidalysin and its mode of action. Candidalysin perforates the cell membranes of host cells and destroys them. This major finding was honored, not least because it will be substantial for future development of treatments.

Next year's Leibniz Conference on Bioactive Compounds will take place in April 2018 (date will be announced soon) at the IPB in Halle.

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