With CARDDIAB, the scientific infrastructure of MFZ I (Medical Research Centre I), which is currently designed primarily for experimental biomedical basic research, will be supplemented by an infrastructure focused on preclinical and clinical and translational research. The usable space results from the specific requirements for planned large-scale equipment and laboratory areas as well as from the outpatient and day-clinical examination units for healthy or diseased test persons.
Embedded in the specifically designed architecture of the building, CARDDIAB combines state-of-the-art imaging techniques and spectroscopic methods for preclinical and clinical applications on the ground floor. With large-scale equipment worth around 17 million euros, the imaging area's equipment will be unique by international standards. A hybrid system of 3T MRI and angiography equipment will complement a 7T MRI, whose high field strength offers significantly increased sensitivity and resolution compared to the 3T MRI. Two translational high-field MR devices (9.4T-MRI) will also be integrated into the Imaging Core Unit. For real-time analyses of metabolic processes, a hyperpolariser will be installed for use mainly in the production of hyperpolarised 13C-labelled metabolic substrates. The administration of these substrates results in a drastically improved signal strength (factor >10,000) and thus enables highly sensitive quantification of tissue-specific metabolic activity.
CARDDIAB brings together research groups with more than 20 years of experience in the development and application of innovative methods of metabolic phenotyping and will provide them with the necessary space and equipment in the Metabolic Core Unit. In addition to a series of examination rooms for body composition analysis, metabolic stress testing, clamp tests and biopsies, the first floor of the research building is also home to the Human Trial Platform's research station for test persons and control centre as well as supervised training areas. Of particular note are the metabolic chambers. These are test subject rooms isolated from the environment, which enable long-term studies of metabolism through analyses of respiratory gases and energy metabolism. For the examination of subjects with advanced cardiovascular disease and diabetes in the metabolic examination rooms, CARDDIAB offers the necessary close proximity to the clinics and the possibilities to supervise the subjects closely.
Like each of the three Core Units, the Metabolic Core Unit also has an attached laboratory area for the analysis of circulating immune cells and biosamples from muscle, skin and adipose tissue.
The Cardiac & Circulatory Core Unit combines two sub-specialties of cardiology in a series of specialised examination rooms. In the Cardiac Core Unit, specialists in cardiac functional analysis will be able to characterise cardiac function in healthy and diseased test persons in a translational setting using echocardiography, rhythm analysis, biomarkers, spiroergometry, autonomic cardiac functional analysis, and also through specific provocation protocols. Methods of pulmonary function diagnostics and body plethysmography (CPX) will complement the study of cardiopulmonary interaction.
Immediately adjacent are the Circulatory Core Unit (inter-organ communication) examination rooms. With simultaneous monitoring of metabolism and cardiovascular function, this area provides the equipment to perform both acute and chronic exercise protocols (ergometric, isometric). At rest and under stress, physical performance can be characterised here, integrating vascular function, metabolism, autonomic regulation and cardiac function in terms of organ communication. For this purpose, methods of macrovascular and microvascular arterial vascular analysis, venous (ultrasound, laser Doppler, infrared technique) as well as physicomechanical and pharmacological interventions are performed.
To address the growing importance of immunological processes in metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, another important component of CARDDIAB will be the immunophenotyping of circulating and tissue-resident (immune) cells. This will be made possible by the installation of a state-of-the-art mass cytometer (CyTOF) in the laboratory area of the Cardiac & Circulatory Core Unit.
The GMP area of the building will be located on the third floor. GMP stands for "Good Manufacturing Practice", the standard for the production of pharmaceuticals laid down in national and international regulations, with extensive specifications for hygiene, premises, equipment, documentation and controls.
The GMP area in CARDDIAB includes a clean room area equipped with a special ventilation system and personnel locks as well as an analytical laboratory. Non-radioactive metabolites for diagnostic use will be produced and analysed here. In combination with MR spectroscopy, these metabolites enable an analysis of organ-specific metabolism without radioactivity, X-rays or biopsies that is unique in this form in Germany and internationally. Currently, the performance of clinical studies is severely limited due to the uncertain supply situation. The independent production of sterile infusion solutions of these metabolites thus ensures independence from suppliers from abroad and represents a unique selling point of CARDDIAB throughout Europe.
The Clinical Trial Platform provides the infrastructural basis for clinical research in CARDDIAB. Find out more on the clinical trials page.
The central Preclinical Trial Platform with a translational focus enables research on preclinical models. Studies on these models – analogous to humans – can enable functional analysis and imaging. Scientists hope this will lead to a better understanding of pathophysiology and the identification and testing of new therapeutic targets for humans.