The project “RIBOLUTION – Integrated Platform for the Identification and Validation of Innovative RNA-based Biomarkers for Personalized Medicine” is a research alliance supported by the Fraunhofer-Zukunftsstiftung (Fraunhofer Future Foundation).

New RNA-biomarkers will be identified for selected diseases using comprehensive genome-spanning screening. Their diagnostic application will be validated. RIBOLUTION also includes so-called non-coding RNAs that were recently discovered as a large reservoir of potentially valuable medical biomarkers.

Biomarkers are being sought that function as diagnostic indicators and reveal diseases, monitor their course, or predict the response to therapy. In addition, the process of biomarker-screening will be optimized and perfected by RIBOLUTION with the help of technical innovations.

The demographic change is an enormous challenge for the health care system. In particular cancer, chronic, inflammatory, and degenerative diseases demonstrate a strong age-dependent incidence.

Improved early disease diagnosis can prevent disease courses that are difficult and costly to treat. Better differential diagnostics would prevent diagnostic and especially therapeutic consequential costs that would result from wrong diagnoses. This makes an individual optimal therapy choice possible. However, the novel, validated biomarkers cannot keep up with the rapidly growing diagnostic demand. RIBOLUTION is breaking fresh ground to meet these needs.


RIBOLUTION which is funded by the Fraunhofer-Zukunftsstiftung is a research alliance made up of 5 Fraunhofer institutes in cooperation with several universities. It has the goal to identify new RNS-biomarkers using a systematic genome-wide screening program and to validate their diagnostic application. At the same time the screening process itself will be technically perfected by automation and improved analytics.

Non-coding RNAs – a promising molecule class with great diagnostic potential:

Recent research has shown that a major part of the human genome is not used to encode proteins. These “non-coding” regions were initially assumed to be useless. Today it is clear that a huge number of different so-called non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) are read which play a central role in cellular regulation. More and more of these ncRNAs are being linked to diseases. Therefore, they are a huge and mainly unknown reservoir of potential biomarkers for medicine.

Next-generation-transcriptome-sequencing and microarray-technologies will be used to search for RNA-based biomarkers. Biomarker candidates are being validated in large clinical cohorts using quantitative RT-PCR.

Clinical indications:

RIBOLUTION identifies novel RNA-biomarkers for selected diseases. This includes prostate cancer, the most common cancer in men with about 350 000 new cases per year in Europe. It also includes chronic-obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a chronic airways inflammation that is currently the fourth most common cause of death. In Germany, almost 15% of persons over the age of 40 years suffer from this disease. For both diseases biomarkers are desperately needed to predict the course of the illnesses and to have the best therapy choice.

Biomarker-screening is being done on tumor samples from prostate cancer patients in cooperation with the University Clinic Dresden and the international COPD-study ECLIPSE (funded by GlaxoSmithKline).

Technical perfection of biomarker-screening:

In addition the biomarker-screening process will be optimized and perfected by RIBOLUTION with the help of technical innovations. This will make it even more reliable and cost efficient.

RIBOLUTION’s focus of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) exploits a new molecule class with high biomarker potential that so far has hardly been used. This recently developed area of research allows access to a gigantic pool of promising biomarkers that are mainly uncharacterized. Preliminary results confirm the exceptional diagnostic potential of these ncRNA-biomarkers.

Aside from screening for new biomarkers, RIBOLUTION is concurrently developing methods that efficiently identify and validate such biomarkers and allow high cost efficiency and reduced project risk. This includes the development of a modular, flexible automation system for the analysis of any biomarker-issue in large cohorts, a powerful and precise nanoliter-dosing-system as part of the automation and miniaturization of high throughput validation processes, and a permeable inline process and quality control.

With quality control and continuous documentation, a certified automated biomarker identification and validation process will be established by the end of the project. At the same time the developed technologies can be offered individually or as a package to equipment and system designers.

Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI
Prof. Dr. Friedemann Horn
Perlickstr. 1
04103 Leipzig
+49 341 35536-3305

Fraunhofer-Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA
Dipl.-Ing. Andreas Traube
Nobelstraße 12
70569 Stuttgart
+49 711 970-1233

Fraunhofer-Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB
Molecular biotechnology
Dr. Kai Sohn
Nobelstr. 12
70569 Stuttgart
+49 711 970-4055

Fraunhofer-Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine ITEM
Prof. Dr. Norbert Krug
Nikolai-Fuchs-Str. 1
30625 Hannover
+49 511 5350-602

Fraunhofer-Institute for Applied Informationtechnology FIT
Prof. Dr. Harald Mathis
Schloss Birlinghoven
53754 Sankt Augustin
+49 2241 14-1512

Clinic and Policlinic for Urology
University Clinic Carl Gustav Carus of the Technical University Dresden
Prof. Dr. Dr. Manfred Wirth
Fetscherstraße 74
01307 Dresden

Institute for Medical Informatics, Statistics, and Epidemiology
University Leipzig
Prof. Dr. Markus Löffler
Härtelstraße 16-18
04107 Leipzig