Archive: Innovation Radar

Innovation Radar: Improving Websites by Neuroscience

How to improve user attention to your website? This is a crucial question because visitors decide in less than five seconds on whether to proceed and look further or to just click away.

Based on insights of neuroscience, the German company Whitematter Labs GmbH has developed EyeQuant, a  patent-pending neurotechnology that helps companies optimize user attention.

The web-based tools identify the most eye-catching elements of a website using a predictive neuroscience model of human attention. The technology is based on eye-tracking data gathered in studies with several hundred human subjects conducted by visual neuroscientist Peter Koenig and his Neurobiopsychology Lab at the University of Osnabrueck, Germany.

The analysis can be performed by uploading screenshots to the EyeQuant website and is answering crucial questions: what will users see at first glance? Which elements of the website garner most attention? What are the regions of interest?

Website owners will get a map of the eye-catching sections and a perception map of what potential customers will focus on within the first few seconds – and what they ignore. Based on these data, websites can be further improved and subsequently tested again.

The technology thereby helps companies and web designers to understand and optimize landing pages and to improve conversion rates. EyeQuant offers the free analysis of two website screenshots. More detailed analyses can be booked for projects or as a flat rate, but it is also possible to obtain the tools as white label or to integrate it in own websites and marketing tools.

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Innovation Radar: A Game Changing Technology for Biomolecule Analytics

All biomolecules operate and interact in aqueous solutions, surrounded by a characteristic hydration shell. Virtually any conformational change of a biomolecule, e.g. the formation of a protein-protein complex or the binding of a small molecule, results in a change of the individual hydration shell.

A German company called NanoTemper Technologies has found a way to easily monitor these specific changes in the hydration shell and to derive quantitative information on interactions, conformational changes and macromolecular stability. The beauty of the concept termed Microscale Thermophoresis (MST) lies in its ability to observe and measure various parameters, such as affinities and binding energetics, at conditions which almost fully mirror the native environment of the biomolecules found in cells.

This is of great value, in particular for interactions that are difficult to access with standard methods, like the binding of small molecules or single ions to larger components of the cell, or the interactions of peptides and proteins to membrane receptors, the most important pharmaceutical drug targets.

NanoTemper, a spin-off from the Center of NanoScience (CeNS) at Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich (Germany), was founded in 2008. The company is headquartered in Munich and runs a fully owned subsidiary in San Francisco (USA). NanoTemper offers instruments and consumables to customers worldwide. The products provide scientists in basic research with cost-effective access to an enabling technology and allow experiments that have never been possible before. Pharmaceutical and biotech companies can use the technology for faster and better characterization of drug candidates. For more information visit


Pictured below: Monolith NT.115, one of NanoTemper´s Microscale Thermophoresis instruments

Innovation Radar: How to Detect Increased Risk for Renal Manifestations in SLE (lupus) patients

Patients suffering from the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) develop autoantibodies to chromatin and often to neutrophil proteins as well. As immune complexes of these antibodies can be deposited in kidneys, they contribute to the frequent and dangerous organ manifestation of lupus nephritis.

Recent studies suggest that neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) might act as a source of autoantigens. NETs consist of chromatin as well as granule proteins and play an important role in immune defense after their release from neutrophils to sites of infection. Degradation of NETs is mainly promoted by DNase1 digestion which is impaired in a subset of SLE patients. A strong correlation between NET degradation status and lupus nephritis, e.g. glomerulonephritis, has been shown and therefore offers a new diagnostic method for detecting an increased risk of SLE patients to develop renal manifestations.

Based on these observations, scientists of the German Max Planck Society (MPG) have developed a technology for the assessment of an increased risk in SLE patients for developing renal manifestations – a finding that is not achieved by determination of anti-dsDNA antibody titers.

The technology measures a NET-degradation status upon incubation with a sample of body fluid (e.g. blood or serum) from a SLE patient, whereby a poor NET-degradation corresponds to a higher probability of developing renal manifestations. Protocols for obtaining NETs from healthy donors as well as preparing NETs artificially are provided. Degradation status is assessed by determination of released/present NET-component(s) (e.g. neutrophil elastase) after incubation with a sample from a patient and either by comparison with the results obtained from a healthy donor or a control sample (buffer). Determination of NET-degradation can be achieved by the use of fluorescence spectrometry, ELISA or EIA. An international patent application has been filed.

The technology is available for licensing via Max Planck Innovation.


Innovation Radar: Starving Cells Improves Chemotherapy

A few days of fasting may delay tumor progression and improve chemotherapy, a new study in mice reports. The findings indicate that fasting prior to chemotherapy treatment protects animals – and possibly humans – against the side effects of treatment. Here, Valter Longo and colleagues show in mice that fasting for 2 days in the absence of other treatments can delay the progression of different types of cancer, and may in some cases be just as effective as toxic chemotherapy drugs. However, the combination of fasting and chemotherapy appears to be more effective at making normal cells stronger (more able to resist damage from chemotherapeutic drugs) than either alone. In fact, combined fasting and chemotherapy promoted long-term, cancer-free survival in up to 40 percent of mice with neuroblastomas. Although clinical trials testing the effect of fasting in cancer treatment are still in early stages, these studies suggest that fasting cycles have the potential to boost the efficacy of chemotherapy. The results are particularly relevant for advanced-stage patients for whom standard treatment is ineffective.

The research is published in this week’s Science Translational Medicine (Sci. Transl. Med. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3003293)

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