The focus of our research is inextricably linked to our core competence in anatomy and histology. The different projects reflect the strong commitment of the group for interdisciplinary projects and basic research directly addressing clinical needs.
Urinary bladder dysfunctions
With the aim to better understand the pathomechanisms that lead to lower urinary tract symptoms, our group has set out to investigate cellular changes within the bladder. After having performed several PCR- and immunohistochemistry-based studies (focusing e.g. on connexins or smoothelin), in recent years, we ventured into new technical fields. Taking into account the complex histology of the bladder wall, we have developed a laser capture microdissection approach to isolate and investigate distinct compartments from human bladder biopsies. Using this benchmark technology we started to analyze the transcriptional changes of bladder smooth muscle cells from patients with relevant clinical entities (bladder outlet obstruction, bladder overactivity) with microarrays and RNA-Seq.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT)
PDT is a recently re-discovered modality that offers a number of important advantages for the treatment of cancer patients, such as e.g. minimal invasiveness and lack of severe side effects. With the aim to further improve PDT performance we have initiated a couple of PDT- related projects, dealing with e.g. the potential of combining PDT drugs (so called photosensitizers) or simultaneously applying hyperthermia. Starting as a side project, we also explored antimicrobial applications of PDT. However, the acquired know-how, our specific methods (especially in cell biology) as well as our background in histology and anatomy eventually opened new research avenues towards antimicrobial therapies and nanomedicine.
Nanoparticles offer innovative strategies that in many sectors may shape the future of medicinal product development. With regard to PDT, nanoparticles allow for the encapsulation of potent, but lipophilic photosensitizers, an increased in-vivo stability of photosensitizers, an enhanced local drug accumulation, and the option to attach targeting moieties. Two of our projects focus on the development and/or application of biocompatible, photosensitizer-doped lipid nanoparticles for the treatment of head and neck cancer or gastric cancer. A further nanoparticle project will focus on the application of magnetic nanoparticles to generate hyperthermia in head and neck cancers.