Projects Cell and Gene Therapy

Novel standardized methods for rapid and efficient isolation of murine and human liver cell fractions

The liver consists of five major cell types, which include hepatocytes, endothelial cells, stellate cells and Kupffer cells and cholangiocytes. Isolation of these cells for cell culture experiments and transplantation purposes involves complex protocols, which are difficult to standardize and time consuming. In co-operation with the IBA GmBH, Göttingen, we currently develop novel standardized methods for rapid and efficient isolation of the major cell fractions from murine and human liver. Isolation procedures are based on the recently introduced FAB-TACS technology. Our method would allow quantitative isolation of all cell fractions from one tissue sample in a stepwise process. Based on the “know how” developed by the project a commercial platform will be developed by the IBA company. The work is funded for two years by EU-EFRE.

Hepatocellular carcinoma

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of liver cancer. HCC is amongst the top three leading causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide with a median survival of only six to eight months. HCCs are largely unresponsive towards most existing therapeutics. There is therefore an urgent need for the development of novel and more effective treatments. A class of small (~22 nucleotide) non-coding RNAs called microRNAs (miRNAs), is deregulated in a number of human cancers including HCCs. These miRNAs are emerging as promising therapeutic targets. MiRNAs affect a wide range of cellular functions including growth, differentiation, and death. Despite the enormous potential of miRNAs as therapeutics, the biological function of individual cancer-associated miRNAs is only just emerging. The group focuses on the identification of novel miRNAs involved in HCC, to understand their function in HCC development, and to determine their therapeutic potential in HCC. This is a crucial step for the development of novel and more effective therapeutic options for this currently untreatable disease. In cooperation with the Leibniz University, Hannover, we evaluate the therapeutic potential of magnetic nanoparticle ansamitocin conjugates in HCC.

Project: Dr. Asha Balakrishnan
Funding: Deutsche Krebshilfe 111147