A new Collaborative Research Center will start in July with a total funding of nearly 14 million euros, headed by the German Institute for Experimental Biomedicine in Würzburg. The aim is to decode the complex and insufficiently understood functions of platelets, the so-called thrombocytes. The scientists hope to use these findings to gain new insights into platelet research which allow better treatment of conditions such as heart attack, stroke, acute lung failure and cancer.
Emerging platelets (white arrows) are buded off by their progenitor cells, the megakaryocytes. Here the cytoskeletal components tubulin (green) and actin (red) and the nucleus (blue) are colored.
"Thrombocytes do much more than to stop bleedings and to cause heart attacks," explains Professor Bernhard Nieswandt, Director of the Institute for Experimental Biomedicine, supported by the University Hospital Würzburg (UKW) and the Rudolf Virchow Center for Experimental Biomedicine of the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (JMU), Germany.
"Recent studies have suggested that there are very complex interactions between the smallest blood cells and various inflammatory processes, cellular defense mechanisms, innate immunity, the maintenance of vascular and organ functions and the development of tumors." According to Professor Nieswandt a more detailed knowledge of the underlying molecular mechanisms is central to a better understanding of diseases such as stroke and acute respiratory failure.
"The very pronounced translational character that unites basic researchers with clinicians is one special strength of our network", emphasizes Professor Nieswandt and specifies: "We are positive that our newly gained basic findings will quickly lead to novel treatment concepts for a whole series of Diseases that have not previously been seen in the context of platelets. "
Prof. Dr. med. Georg Ertl, Medical Director of the UKW, says proudly with regard to the reputation of the location: "The DFG reviewers confirmed with this grant approval that Professor Nieswandt and his team are among the world elite in fundamental platelet research. Research for our patients is one of our outstanding duties."
Scientists from the Greifswald University Hospital and the Dortmund Leibniz Institute for Analytical Sciences (ISAS) are also involved in the new Collaborative Research Center. The interdisciplinary research group combines molecular genetics, in vivo disease models, high resolution microscopy, in vivo imaging, systems biology, translational approaches and clinical research.
Each day, around 100 billion platelets are produced from giant progenitor cells in the bone marrow of a healthy person, circulating in the bloodstream for about ten days. Their best-described function is to control the vessel wall for injury, sealing it if necessary in order to prevent uncontrolled blood loss. If uncontrolled thrombus formation occurs, platelets can form large aggregates, big enough to lead to life-threatening vascular occlusions such as in the case of a heart attack or stroke.
MEDICA-tradefair.com; Source: Rudolf Virchow Center of the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg