University of Bayreuth, Press release No. 108/2023 - 27 July 2023

Bayreuth ERC project on biogenic magnetic nanoparticles receives application-related follow-up funding

Prof. Dr. Dirk Schüler, Chair of Microbiology at the University of Bayreuth, has been awarded a Proof of Concept Grant by the European Research Council (ERC). This special form of funding gives him the opportunity to explore innovative biomedical applications of the research results obtained under his leadership in the recently completed "Syntomagx" project. In 2016, he received an ERC Advanced Grant, one of Europe's most prestigious research awards, for this project, which focused on magnetic bacteria and, in particular, the genetic magnetization of foreign microorganisms. The new follow-up grant comprises 150,000 euros and runs for 18 months.

Prof. Dr. Dirk Schüler in front of the electron microscope reconstruction of the interior of a magnetic bacterial cell.

The new application-oriented project entitled "BacToMagicle" aims to produce tailor-made magnetic nanoparticles produced by novel, genetically modified bacteria that are suitable, for example, for high-resolution magnetic particle imaging (MPI). The scientific foundations for these and other applications were laid in the "Syntomagx" project, which has significantly advanced research into magnetic bacteria. In particular, the genetic requirements for bacterial production of magnetic nanoparticles and their transferability to other organisms are now much better understood than they were just a few years ago.

"Together with my team, I am very pleased about the funding of our follow-up project, which brings concrete biomedical applications of bacterial magnetic nanoparticles within reach. Compared to the chemically synthesized magnetic nanoparticles that are currently commercially available, the nanoparticles we are targeting, produced by transgenic bacteria, will be superior in several respects: they are more versatile and flexible to use, and they can be produced increasingly cost-effectively under sustainable manufacturing conditions," says Prof. Dr. Dirk Schüler.

With a view to the long-term goal of commercial exploitation, he will work with his Bayreuth team and several biomedical cooperation partners to test the practical applicability and evaluate the demand for high-quality, bacterially generated magnetic nanoparticles. "I envision that our bacterially-derived particles can revolutionize the biomedical market for magnetic nanoparticles. Genetically tailored and highly functionalized nanoparticles from bacterial production are suitable for a wide range of innovative applications – including the latest high-tech biomedical procedures," Schüler says.

Further information
on the Proof of Concept Grants (PoC Grants) of the European Research Council:

Prof. Dr. Dirk Schüler.

Prof. Dr. Dirk Schüler

Chair of Microbiology
University of Bayreuth

Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-2729

Christian Wißler, Wissenschaftskommunikation

Christian Wißler

Deputy Press & PR Manager, Research Communication
University of Bayreuth

Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-5356