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Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research

Research in the field of infectious diseases at these institutes ranges from studies of the molecular interactions between pathogen and host to the discovery of new active agents for the treatment and prevention of infections. Strong competencies in the fields of natural product research grew historically with the identification of new secondary metabolites from myxobacteria; the HZI is the world centre of excellence for this type of microorganism. Since January 2012 the natural products group was further extended to fungi and hitherto neglected bacteria as interesting sources of novel lead compounds.

The natural products units at HIPS/HZI will also serve as a core facility in the new DZIF program, where it will take responsibility for establishing and maintaining the natural compound libraries for the DZIF consortium. New interesting organisms for natural products screening will be made available through collaboration in a global network with leading biodiversity researchers and institutes such as BIOTEC (Thailand), CBS-KNAW (Netherlands) and DSMZ (Germany).

The Chemical Biology department uses its own technologies of combinatorial chemistry for empirical search strategies in drug discovery and molecular diagnostics. The compound screening facility of the department offers access to special compound collections and to its professional bioprofiling services.

The Department of Molecular Structural Biology at the HZI, a partner of the ESFRI RI INSTRUCT, conducts internationally recognised structural biology research in the areas of X-ray crystallography and NMR spectroscopy. To strengthen translational research, the HZI founded, in 2008 and jointly with the Medical School of Hannover, the translation research centre TWINCORE. In addition, the HZI is partner in the network Alliance in Translation Niedersachsen (TRAIN) with the aim of assembling a complete development chain for medical research from the discovery of a new drug to the medicine, with research institutions in Lower Saxony.

One compound from the HZI natural products collection has already reached market approval: Epothilone is marketed as a cancer treatment by Bristol-Myers Squibb under the name “Ixempra”.


Kling A, Lukat P, Almeida DV, Bauer A, Fontaine E, Sordello S, Zaburannyi N, Herrmann J, Wenzel SC, König C, Ammerman NC, Barrio MB, Borchers K, Bordon-Pallier F, Brönstrup M, Courtemanche G, Gerlitz M, Geslin M, Hammann P, Heinz DW, Hoffmann H, Klieber S, Kohlmann M, Kurz M, Lair C, Matter H, Nuermberger E, Tyagi S, Fraisse L, Grosset JH, Lagrange S, Müller R.
Antibiotics. Targeting DnaN for tuberculosis therapy using novel griselimycins.
Science. 2015 Jun 5;348(6239):1106-12. doi: 10.1126/science.aaa4690.

Hoffmann, Holger; Kogler, Herbert; Heyse, Winfried; Matter, Hans; Caspers, Michael; Schummer, Dietmar; Klemke-Jahn, Christine; Bauer, Armin; Penarier, Geraldine; Debussche, Laurent; Brönstrup, Mark. Discovery, Structure Elucidation, and Biological Characterization of Nannocystin A, a Macrocyclic Myxobacterial Metabolite with Potent Antiproliferative Properties. Angewandte Chemie (2015), in press.

Baumann S, Herrmann J, Raju R, Steinmetz H, Mohr KI, Hüttel S, Harmrolfs K, Stadler M, Müller R.
Cystobactamids: myxobacterial topoisomerase inhibitors exhibiting potent antibacterial activity
Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2014 Dec 22;53(52):14605-9. doi: 10.1002/anie.201409964. Epub 2014 Dec 15.

Surup, F., Viehrig, K., Mohr, K.I., Herrmann, J., Jansen, R. and Müller, R.  Disciformycins A and B: 12-membered macrolide glycoside antibiotics from the myxobacterium Pyxidicoccus fallax active against multiresistant staphylococci, Angewandte Chemie, 2014, 53 (49), 13588-91.  

Storz MP, Maurer CK, Zimmer C, Wagner N, Brengel C, de Jong JC, Lucas S, Müsken M, Häussler S, Steinbach A, Hartmann RW. Validation of PqsD as an anti-biofilm target in Pseudomonas aeruginosa by development of small-molecule inhibitors. J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Oct 3;134(39):16143-6.

Nickeleit, I., Zender, S., Sasse, F., Geffers, R., Brandes, G., Sörensen, I., Steinmetz, H., Kubicka,S., Carlomagno, T., Menche, D., Buer, J., Gossler, A., Manns, M.P., Kalesse, M., Frank, R. & Malek, N.P.  Argyrin A reveals a critical role for the tumor suppressor protein p27kip1 in mediating anti-tumor activities in response to proteasome inhibition.Cancer Cell. (2008)14: 23-35.

Mukhopadhyay, J., Das, K., Ismail, S., Koppstein, D., Jang, M., Hudson, B., Sarafianos, S., Tuske, S., Patel, J., Jansen, R., Irschik, H., Arnold, E., Ebright, R. H. The RNA Polymerase "Switch Region" is a Target for Inhibitors. Cell (2008) 135: 295-307.


  • Prof Dr Mark Brönstrup

    Coordinator Helmholtz Drug Research

    Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI)
    38124 Braunschweig

    Phone: +49 531 6181-3400

  • Prof. Dr. Marc Stadler

    Head of Research Group Microbial Drugs

    Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research

    Infhoffenstraße 7
    38124 Braunschweig

    Phone: +49 531 6181-4240

  • Prof. Dr. Rolf Müller

    Coordinator Helmholtz Drug Research

    Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS)
    Saarland University
    66123 Saarbrücken

    Phone: +49 531 6181-3400