The motivation of our work is to enable novel biomedical applications and therapies through the use of engineered proteins. However, the problems to be solved to reach this goal are typically very basic and fundamental in nature. They often require to investigate the biophysical and structural aspects of proteins, and thus this research also helps us to better understand proteins. Very often, also the development of new technologies is required, such as for directed evolution.
Because of the complex nature of these challenges, our lab is very interdisciplinary. It ranges from protein design and modeling, to directed evolution, to structural biology and biophysical investigations, to cell culture work and animal work. Several projects have gone through all these stages. All aspects are connected by our core ability to engineer proteins — in many ways — and these combined efforts made many projects possible in the first place.
One key capability we have developed over the years is to create novel binding proteins, e.g., the DARPin technology we have invented, and to use them in numerous applications. Another is the ability to create stable protein variants through design and evolution, which has helped in creating crystallizable G protein-coupled receptors, stable antibodies, and stable intracellular binding proteins. An area of particular interest has been the use of engineered proteins in targeted tumor therapies.