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What contribution does fundamental research of cells make to our health?

Lab Academy

Basic or fundamental research – which aims to improve our understanding of natural phenomena without any clear goals – is vital in laying the foundations for applied research, which focuses on solving a particular problem, such as curing or treating a disease.
A good example is Lee Hartwell, Timothy Hunt and Sir Paul Nurse’s research into the key regulators of the cell cycle in the 1970s and 1980s. They wanted to find out how the cell cycle is controlled. Their research about cells uncovered the Cdk molecules, which play a key part in regulating the cell cycle. By improving our understanding of cell growth, their research resulted in an improved understanding of how defects in the control of the cell cycle can lead to cancer. This ultimately led to the development of Cdk inhibitors, which are now approved as drugs to treat metastatic breast cancer. In recognition of this work, the three scientists were awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize.
More recently, the 2019 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine was awarded to researchers in the US and the UK for the fundamental discovery of how cells sense and adapt to oxygen availability. This understanding gives insights into new treatments for conditions ranging from cancer, to anemia and heart disease.
Supporting researchers in their fundamental research is something that we at Eppendorf are passionate about. Eppendorf’s principle is that perfection lies in the details. This principle is behind every product we develop.
We are always looking to support both basic and applied research, currently and in the future. As an example, NGS is paving the way for the development of liquid biopsies, which can be used to advance our understanding of hereditary diseases and cancer. NGS is also helping us in studying the microbiome: the genomes of all the microorganisms living in or on people, which is already known to affect our health and well-being, influencing a range of diseases and disorders.
Standardization of the NGS workflow is important for comparing and combining separate results across global studies, such as in large international consortiums. Coordinating these global studies and managing the samples correctly can be challenging, especially because microbiome samples must be stored at -80 °C . The eLabInventory® information management system can make the logistics easier by keeping track of samples
Aside from providing users of cell and molecular biology labs with their day-to-day lab needs, we also support the Eppendorf Award for Young European Investigators . Established 25 years ago, it is presented in partnership with the journal Nature®, and acknowledges outstanding contributions to biomedical research in Europe.