The Young scientist project proposals that were granted kickbox seed funding for the period April-October 2017 are listed below:
Bone fractures are one of the most frequent orthopedic problems requiring medical treatment. Facing an aging population, specifically in the western world, a better understanding of how bone regeneration processes are altered with age is essential to develop novel treatment strategies satisfying the clinical need. We have recently developed a toolbox to simulate and study extracellular matrix (ECM) formation in vitro by cultivating primary human fibroblasts inside 3D macroporous collagen scaffolds. We propose that under compromised conditions such as aging, these early tissue formation processes are altered (e.g. by ECM secretion pattern, ROS level, cellular tension) with further consequences for stem- and progenitor cell migration, proliferation and differentiation.
Team : Erik Brauer, Sophie Schreivogel, Daniela Mau, Uwe Kornak, Ansgar Petersen
Team message : Motivated master students willing to perform their thesis or an internship within this interdisciplinary field of biomechanics, biomaterials, genetics and tissue engineering are mostly welcome to contact us.
Contact : firstname.lastname@example.org
Our project deals with fostering human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC)-derived renal organoids into mini-kidneys. We are trying to encourage intercellular interactions, growth and morphogenesis within the organoid by providing the chorio-allantoic membrane (CAM) of chick embryos as a vascular niche for ectopic organogenesis. This experiment will help us estimate the degree of maturation of the organoid into an organ upon introduction of oxygen supply and shear flow. The results of this experiment will be used to tailor a 3D-printed, chip-based perfusion system to mimic the nephro-vascular unit that developed from a fetal to an adult stage on the CAM. This chip design will be realized using flexible funds and can be used as an ex-vivo culture system for healthy and patient-derived induced kidney cells.
Team : Krithika Hariharan, Su-Jun Oh, Andreas Kurtz
Team message : We are seeking collaboration partners for imaging and chip-based technologies.
Liver cirrhosis is one of the main indications for liver transplantation. Due to the organ shortage, this therapy option is limited to the minority of patients suffering from cirrhosis. Therefore, there is a need of alternative treatment options.The aim of our project is to establish a decellularization protocol for human cirrhotic livers slices, which preserves the natural extracellular matrix (ECM) of cirrhotic livers. These decellularized liver slices will serve as a 3 dimensional model to study cell matrix interactions. If we are able to establish a protocol which will preserve the ECM, we will conduct in vitro recellularization experiments to study how the cirrhotic ECM will change the genotype and phenotype of different cell types. With this knowledge we aim to modify specific cell types in vivo or vitro for example prior to cell transplantation. Our ambition is to steer the cell matrix interaction via these modified cells after their transplantation and thereby halt or even reverse the progress of liver cirrhosis. This approach may offer an alternative treatment option in the future.
Team : Karl Hillebrandt, Oliver Klein, Igor Sauer
Team message : We are interested in collaborations with experts in the field of molecular mechanism in liver cirrhosis.
Contact : Karlemail@example.com
After stroke, the brain can compensate for lost neuronal tissue functions by rewiring of the neuronal network. However, in adult brains, post-ischemic healing is compromised, since neuroplasticity is limited by the adult shape of ECM consisting of a very dense meshwork of ECM proteins. We have shown, that endothelial cells can steer the post ischemic ECM remodeling depending on the inflammatory Stat3 pathway (Hoffmann et al., 2015). In this project, we want to shape the inflammatory endothelial cell response after stroke using a targeted drug for endothelial Stat3 activation. This will steer the remodeling of the ECM towards a neuroplasticity permissive status. This might help to overcome the compromised healing and regeneration after stroke. We will evaluate the drug in mice using a transient filamentous occlusion of the middle cerebral artery (MCAo) as stroke model and behavioral tests to determine effects on long-term functional outcome. We will monitor regenerative effects by visualization of neuronal network changes by viral and chemical tracing techniques as well as DTI and resting state MRI sequences. ECM remodeling will be determined histologically with an emphasis on the perineuronal net and CNS Ranvier´s node ECM.
Team : Christian Hoffmann, Christoph Harms, Gisela Lättig, Philipp Böhm-Sturm
Contact : firstname.lastname@example.org
Our project is based on observations from plastic surgery: autologous fat grafts lead to a significant reduction of scar tissue. We will attempt to identify the fat components responsible for this phenomenon, as well as the molecular pathways they work within. Therefore, we will study the interactions between myofibroblasts, a cell type already known to play a crucial role in wound healing, adipocytes and the adipocyte secretome. Since wound healing processes include changes to the extracellular matrix, we will analyze matrix remodeling alongside changes to the intracellular signaling of myofibroblasts cultured in 2D and 3D. Ideally, we would like to incorporate a pathological phenotype into our studies. To this end, a research stay in the group of Susan Gibbs, Vrije University Amsterdam, has been organized during the Kickbox period, during which we will work with fibroblasts isolated from hypertrophic scars.
Team : Katharina Hörst, Uwe von Fritschen, Nan Ma, Susan Gibbs, Sarah Hedtrich
Team message : We are seeking collaboration partners working with scar tissue/fibrosis models as well as partners for the analysis of the adipocyte secretome. We also offer the possibility for master students to do their thesis in our lab.
Contact : email@example.com
Angiogenesis is a fundamental process in development, cancer, and regeneration. Complex signaling pathways regulate tip selection, tip migration, and stalk cell proliferation to shape the emerging vascular network. To improve our basic understanding of how signaling interactions within individual cells determine vascular network architecture, we need multi-scale computational models that integrate the cellular signaling dynamics into tissue level dynamics. In the kickbox phase, we will implement the software necessary to efficiently simulate intracellular dynamics in multi scale agent based models and generate a proof of concept study.In the follow up project, we aim to collaborate with experimental scientists to iteratively generate, test, and refine hypotheses on how intracellular signalling defines vascular network structure.
Team: Clemens Kühn, Judith Wodke, Sara Checa Esteban, Edda Klipp, Georg Duda
Team message: We seek collaboration partners for a combined experimental/modeling project on signaling in angiogenesis. We also seek motivated Master’s students for the kickbox project.
The objective of the project is to uncover the function of IL-4 in cartilage homeostasis with available murine and human material applying different methods. Furthermore, we will work on a concept to implement in silico methods as a strong tool to study biological processes and signalling pathways and to use the power of an interdisciplinary collaboration towards a common goal. In a following (advanced) project, we aim to clarify the role of IL-4 in the pathogenesis of OA, to provide evidence-based approaches on how to overcome these compromised conditions and to identify new therapeutic targets towards OA to challenge an unmet clinical need that has remained unresolved for far too long.
Team: Annemarie Lang, Katharina Schmidt-Bleek, Max Löhning, Susanna Röblitz, Frank Buttgereit
Team message: We are seeking collaboration partners for biomechanical studies.
Team: Evi Lippens, Rosa Schmuck, Amaia Cipitria, Dag Wulsten, Daniela Garske
Our project aim to establish urinary stem cells as a biomarker for the prediction of renal recovery in patients suffering from acute kidney injury (AKI). AKI is one of the most frequent causes of renal function. While some of the patients show at least some degree of recovery, up to 30% show a permanent loss of their renal function. Presently the driving force of recovery is unknown. We hypothesize that the cell composition in urine mimics the structural damage and regenerative potency of the injured organ and predict that increased amounts of kidney - detached stem cells in urine herald recovery, while their absence indicate permanent damage. The correlation of the total number of renal stem cells in the urine will not only help to predict renal recovery, it will additionally allow direct monitoring of renal regeneration and thus, provide a surrogate marker for clinical studies.
Team: Bella Roßbach, Philip Enghard, Khadija El-Amrani
Our project is aimed to prototype new mathematical models which explain the forces produced by the quadricep in exercise meditated OA therapies. We wish to extend existing isometric quadricep models to general motions by enriching the equations using prosthesis data. We are looking for groups working in biomechanics and focused on quantifying qualitatively the effects of exercise mediated therapies.
Team: Vikram Sunkara, Max Von Kleist, Georg Bergmann
Team message: We´d like to hire two students, one from biophysics and one from informatics to help prototype our new models.
Recent research has shown, that a balance between suppression of inflammation and hyper-inflammation is crucial for regeneration and wound healing. Inflammation is often accompanied with tissue acidosis. This results in a different chemical environment of the pathogene (low pH) versus the healthy tissue (normal pH). We develop a novel method to keep the inflammation balanced by drug therapy. For this purpose, a drug is needed which has an activity controlled by the chemical environment. In this context an efficient drug to shape the inflammatory phase should act in hyper-inflamed regions and be almost inactive in low inflammatory parts.
In cooperation with Charité we already developed a selective opioid which only acts in inflamed tissue. The corresponding mathematical models and tools will be transferred to the regenerative therapy context. For understanding how to shape the inflammatory phase of regeneration we employ mathematical modeling. Our methods allow for modeling molecular systems in balance can map the relevant processes in dependence of the inflammatory state.
Team: Marcus Weber, Konstantin Fackeldey, Christoff Schütte