Center for Drug Research, Chair of Pharmaceutical Biology (Prof. Angelika Vollmar)
With the help of Wimasis we can really do quantitative analysis of image-based angiogenesis assays
Prof. Dr. Stefan Zahler
Group Leader Angiogenesis
The Center for Drug Research covers all research areas around the development of novel drug – from chemical synthesis to innovative formulations. At the Chair of Pharmaceutical Biology (Prof. Dr. Angelika Vollmar) we investigate the pharmaceutical potential of natural compounds, be it of plant, animal or microbial origin.
Our main focus lies on tumor biology, with tumor angiogenesis (Prof. Dr. Stefan Zahler) as a central topic. Inhibiting the vessel growth in tumors in order to “starve” the malignancy is an old therapeutic concept, which has led to some clinical success, but still has its limits: due to evasive strategies of the tumors and to development of resistances we are still in need of novel therapeutic targets and inhibitors of angiogenesis. Therefore, not only try to get a better academic understanding of the angiogenesis process, but also screen novel inhibitors. More complex angiogenesis assays, like the tube formation assay, are image based and tedious to evaluate by hand.
Therefore they often are of limited use for screening purposes. The WimTube module overcomes this problem: it enables a robust rational evaluation of tube formation assays, and allows us to use this assay in a medium throughput screening approach.
In addition to the highly reproducible analysis, we also get valuable morphological information, which has to date not been used in classical evaluation routines.
The division of clinical pharmacology (Prof. Dr. Stefan Endres, work group of Dr. David Anz)
For the homeostasis of the immune system communication between the different types of immune cells is of major importance. Communication takes place via soluble factors like cytokines and via direct cell-cell-interaction.
For example during the generation of an immune response, where antigen presenting cells that have processed an antigen and got maturated by pathogen-associated-molecular-patterns secret different types of cytokines in order to activate surrounding immune cells and attract t-helper-cells. Only if these t-helper-cells express the right t-cell-receptor for the specific antigen, an immune response can be evoked. This process is important in the context of defense against invading pathogens, but also for example in the context of immunological recognition and eventually rejection of tumor cells.
In cooperation with Wimasis we were able to develop a new method which can be used to automatically analyze migration and interaction of cells.
Our lab uses cellular and animal models to understand the physiological roles of autophagy and its implications during disease.
Autophagy is an essential intracelullar degradation pathway that recycles cell components generating new building blocks and energy to maintain cellular homeostasis. Autophagy plays an important role in the response to nutrient starvation; the recycling of damaged organelles and is a survival mechanism under stress conditions. In addition, autophagy could as well participate in programmed cell death.
We are interested in the implication of autophagy during development and in the relationship of autophagy with basic processes such as proliferation, differentiation and cell death. Moreover we want to understand how autophagy deregulation may play a role in several pathological situations such as cancer and neurodegenerative conditions.
We have several projects with pharmaceutical companies to screen for new drugs that modulate autophagy with the aim to find new treatments for cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and other pathological conditions.
Wimasis has allowed us to speed up and standardize the process of autophagosome quantification in cells and tissues.