MOLECULES AND INDICATIONS
The starting point for today's drug development is the knowledge of which factors (mostly protein molecules) have a crucial function in the development of a disease. This is followed by the search for active substances that inhibit or stimulate these so-called target molecules. The pictures show some of the molecules I encountered through my work in Frankfurt from 1991 to 2023.
FUNCTIONAL GENOMICS OF OSTEOARTHRITIS
The simple idea of comparing healthy articular cartilage with osteoarthritic articular cartilage to find new treatments required some effort:
To create a win-win constellation with 13 partners from academia, hospitals, small biotech companies and industry.
5+ years from 1999-2005
and support from the BMBF (German Federal Ministry of Education and Research)
NUCLEAR PORE COMPLEX
Transport between the cytoplasm and the nucleus of a cell occurs through nuclear pores. During my postdoctoral stay in the laboratory of Günter Blobel at Rockefeller University, New York, I was part of a team that cloned GP210, the first protein of the nuclear pore complex (1987-90).
To fight inflammation, immune cells must invade a diseased tissue. The cells use adhesion molecules on their surface to recognize and adhere to the target tissue. As a visiting scientist in Brian Seed's lab at Harvard Medical School in Boston, I cloned an enzyme that alters sugar side chains and thus the properties of adhesion molecules (1990-91).
INTERMEDIATE FILAMENTS OF INVERTEBRATES
Cells also have a skeleton, the cytoskeleton. It consists of actin filaments, microtubules and intermediate filaments. Before my PhD thesis in cell biology (1984-87) with Prof. Dr. Klaus Weber and Prof. Dr. Mary Osborn at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, Germany, it was not known whether invertebrates, which make up 95% of the described animal species in the world, also contain such intermediate filaments outside nerve cells. I succeeded in detecting these filaments first in the epithelial cells of the esophagus of Roman snails (Helix pomatia), and later in many other invertebrates, which pointed to interesting evolutionary aspects.
GRAVITROPISM OF THE ALGA CHARA
The stonewort alga Chara anchors itself in the sediment of a pond by growing its unicellular roots (rhizoids) in the direction of gravity. This is called gravitropism. But by what cellular mechanism do these rhizoids sense gravity?
In my diploma thesis at the University of Bonn (1982-84) I was the first to visualize by light and electron microscopy the so-called tip body in these rhizoids and to show that it consists of the membrane network of the endoplasmic reticulum and how it controls the tip growth of the rhizoids.