Natural product analysis in the lab


Natural product analysis in the lab
Image: Jan-Peter Kasper (University of Jena)

A research focus at the Institute of Pharmacy is on the identification of new natural products with bioactive properties and their mechanisms of action as potential drugs in the therapy of inflammations and tumors. New potential drugs are being analyzed using modern anayltical methods and binding partners of such compounds are identified using biochemical approaches. Pharmaceutical formulations are developed to direct the compounds to their targets in the human body. You will find informations on research topics on the websites of the individual sections of the Institute of Pharmacy.

Pharmaceutical/Medicinal Chemistry Expand entry

Prof. Dr. Oliver Werz investigates mechanisms of action and targets of anti-inflammatory and anti-neoplastic compounds at the molecular and cellular level. In addition, Prof. Werz is searching for new therapeutic drugs for the treatment of inflammations, autoimmune diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and tumors. An important aspect of the research is gender-specific differences in pharmacotherapy (“gender medicine”).

Prof. Dr. Gerhard Scriba develops highly specialized, modern analytical separation techniques, particularly for purity testing of pharmaceutical drugs. The research includes the development of new methods for the separation of stereoisomers, mechanistic studies of the interaction between analytes and chiral selectors and the development of capillary electrophoresis-based enzyme assays.

Pharmaceutical Microbiology Expand entry

Research in Prof. Dirk Hoffmeister's group focuses on basidiomycete natural products. The projects are carried out by closely combining chemicial analytics with biochemical and  microbiological methods, as well as molecular biology. The research aims at elucidation of biosyntheses and biotechnological production of bioactive compounds, along with the function of the compounds for their producers. Present work includes species of the genera Psilocybe („liberty  cap“) and Armillaria (honey mushroom), as well as members of the Stereaceae (false turkey tails) and the house eater Serpula lacrymans. The work group is a member of the Collaborative Research Center ChemBioSys, of the Excellence Graduate School Jena School for Microbial Communication (JSMC), and of the International Leibniz Graduate School for Microbial Interaction (MibIntact).

Pharmaceutical Biology Expand entry

Prof. Dr. Thomas Winckler is interested to uncover the molecular mechanisms that certain mobile genetic elements use to identify specific integration sites in the genome of the "social amoeba" Dictyostelium discoideum. The pharmaceutical perspective of this research is to improve current retroviral gene therapy vectors with a component that may help reduce the genotoxicity of such vectors. In another research field Prof. Winckler is interested to determine how individual cells of social amoeba communicate with each other during the aggregation of single cells into multicellular organisms that later form fruiting bodies. Finally, Prof. Winckler is using cell-based an other assays to uncover new lead structures as NMDA receptor antagonists that may be useful as drugs for the therapy of Alzheimer´s disease. 

Pharmaceutical Technology Expand entry

Prof. Dr. Dagmar Fischer works on the development, formulation, characterization and biopharmaceutic testing of nanoparticular drug application systems composed of either synthetic or natural polymers. A focus of the work is on the formulation of innovative drugs including poorly soluble natural products and biomacromolecular drugs and includes the development of methods for cell- and tissue-specific targeting. In addition, Prof. Fischer is interested in the interaction of nanoparticular medicinal products with biological barriers including skin, blood-brain barrier, tumors and intestine, and the testing in models alternative to animal testing (3R model), such as the hen egg test.

Over the years Prof. Dr. Paola Luciani focused her research on the design and characterization of liposomes as drug delivery system (protein, nucleic acids, drugs). She has expertise in designing contrast agents for non-invasive fluorescence imaging of lymphatic and vascular system in inflammation and cancer, as well as selectively sensing reactive oxygen species. Prof. Luciani's research is characterized by a multidisciplinary approach aimed at developing lipid-based tools for diagnostic molecular imaging and for targeted therapy of fibrotic diseases. Another research focus is understanding the molecular mechanisms and the interecellular communication underlying the oral administration of lipid-based formulations and the effect of oxidative stress on phospholipids as nutraceuticals. More recently Prof. Luciani started to explore the field of site-specific sustained release and her research groups actively works on the development of novel manufacturing processes for lipid-based depots as an alternative to current technologies for hydrophilic drugs and biomacromolecules.