Modern Research in the Life Sciences is interdisciplinary by default. The Helm group integrates disciplines from chemistry, biology, physics, bioinformatics, and pharmacy to advance research on nucleic acids, in particular on RNA. The central focus is on RNA modifications of natural or synthetic origin. Insight into how and why nature chemically modifies ribonucleosides guides the design and synthesis of man-made nucleic acids, with applications in fundamental science, biotec, and therapy alike. The Helm group has made significant contributions to two major areas of interest which are RNA modification and delivery of modified RNA. We have been able to do so mainly because we maintain a balanced spectrum of in-house competences and cooperations that includes synthetic organic chemistry, single molecule biophysics, sophisticated RNA biochemistry, cutting edge RNA analytics, and cell culture.
The current research focus is on the so-called “epitranscriptome”, i.e. the information contained in transcribed, process and modified RNAs of a cell. Deciphering the various aspects of the epitranscriptome, in particular of numerous RNA modifications is a driving force in technology development of the group. Applications with pharmaceutical and therapeutic perspectives include analytics of RNA vaccines and recognition of RNA by the innate immune system.