Research Topics at the Center for Experimental Medicine include:
Morphological dynamics of stem cells: From the fusion of two primordial germ cells and the initiation of individual life on, stem cells have a life-long capacity of self-renewal, self-organization and self-maintenance in a specific environment called the ‘niche’. In this context, stem cells interact with neighboring cells, communicate through circulating or locally distributed bioactive substances such as hormones, cytokines, chemokines or growth factors, and react to biophysical stimuli of their tissue. This integrative network with its dynamic morphological action regulates the stem cell fate in the niche and the stem cell’s own capability of participating in regenerative processes by differentiation into almost any cell of the body.
Development of ex vivo explants: The self-organization capability of stem cells within the stem cell niche in basically any peripheral tissue of the human body is the basis for the development of a complex vascular network arising from small tissue fragments of the synovial membrane of joints embedded into three dimensional (3D) fibrin matrices. Bone marrow derived stem cells and spheroids of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and endothelial cells have comparable potentials of de-novo vessel formation in a primary avascular fibrin gels.
Mechanobiology to alter cytoskeletal and mitochondrial morphology of stem cells: The interface of cell biology, immunology and mechanobiology we investigate how the cytoskeleton generates forces to deform the corpus of stem cells within the niche, how this force is transduced from the cell membrane to the cytoplasm and to the nucleus, and reciprocally to the extracellular environment, and assess how stem cells are polarized. Fundamental mechanostimulatory approaches are applied to investigate stem cell mechanotransduction with experimental approaches including life cell imaging in microfluidic custom made flow chambers, and the Bioflux 200, a commercially available well plate-based microfluidic device for live cell imaging.
The blood group ABO system as a transplant barrier: We are interested in the role of anti-blood group A/B antibodies – previously defined as natural antibodies – in diseases associated with allogenic blood group incompatible stem cell transplantation such as pure red cell aplasia. In addition, we are investigating whether carbohydrate epitope sharing is the cause of an increase in anti-blood group A/B antibody titers after pneumococcal polysaccharide immunization.