My name is Alexander Röntgen (ESR12), and I am working as a PhD student at the University of Cambridge. From 4 to 29 September 2023, I had the chance to visit our partner institution MyBiotech GmbH in Überherrn, Saarland, Germany. Together with Romain Topalian (ESR5) and Davide Mazzali (ESR9), we were hosted by Selin Akpınar (ESR3) working under the supervision of Dr. Nazende Günday-Türeli on the generation of poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) particles.

The aim of the Bio2Brain project is to encapsulate pharmaceuticals that are applied to the nasal mucosa and then reach the brain. The work during the secondment was specifically focussed on the encapsulation of proteins as model substances and included the use of analytical tools such as high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and ultraviolet-visible (UV-vis) spectroscopy. Moreover, being my first-ever industrial placement, the secondment provided insights into the work at a biotechnological company. At MyBiotech, research adheres to good manufacturing practices (GMP), which are international guidelines to ensure the controlled production and quality standards of pharmaceutical products. It was therefore crucial for our secondment to familiarise ourselves with the protocols that underlie GMP‑compliant laboratory work.

Deriving its name from the Saar river, the region where MyBiotech is located is marked by a picturesque landscape, notably the Great Bend in the Saar near Mettlach. Bordering France and Luxembourg, the Saarland has a rich intercultural history. Hence, the Saarland has been at the centre of the ties created between the countries in the past decades, with the “Europe monument” in Überherrn being just one of the region’s testimonies to the European spirit. Its location further permitted to explore cities in the surroundings, including Frankfurt, the Roman-founded city of Treves, and Luxembourg.

Together with the diverse scientific backgrounds of the ESRs, the stay at MyBiotech was a valuable experience. I would like to thank Dr. Nazende Günday-Türeli, Dr. Emre Türeli, Selin Akpınar, the staff at MyBiotech GmbH as well as Davide Mazzali and Romain Topalian for the great time spent in Überherrn.

The four ESRs at MyBiotech. From left to right: Romain Topalian (ESR5), Selin Akpınar (ESR3), Davide Mazzali (ESR9) and Alexander Röntgen (ESR12).