Biochemistry and Molecular Cell Biology
The IMBIM groups active in this area study proteoglycans and elucidate functional aspects of these glycoconjugates in relation to embryonic development, angiogenesis and during pathophysiological conditions such as amyloidosis, inflammation and tumor progression. In addition, mouse and human embryonic stem cells are studied focusing on molecular mechanisms that regulate self-renewal as well as roles of proteoglycans in differentiation into different lineages. Many collaborations between the groups create a strong unit.
A majority of the projects concerns heparan sulfate proteoglycans which are of particular importance during embryonic development since heparan sulfate modulates growth factor and cytokine action and participates in the generation and maintenance of morphogen gradients. Biosynthesis of heparan sulfate and its regulation is one important focus. Recent projects also address the question of functional overlaps between heparan sulfate and chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans. Model systems include mice and zebrafish and most recently C. elegans.
Medical protein chemistry
Proteins are central to all life. They catalyse virtually all chemical reactions in the cell and they govern scaffolding and signalling. Protein chemistry is therefore central to all life sciences. In essence, results generated in fields such as genetics, cell biology and bacteriology can only be understood at a molecular level if we understand the structure and function of the proteins involved. Thus, for a profound understanding of any biological phenomenon a solid knowledge in protein science is imperative. Such basic knowledge is not only vital to gain through research but also crucial to convey to students in life sciences.
The groups ask different questions on various biological systems but share the common goal of understanding protein function at the level of molecular and atomic resolution. They also share the common goal of teaching undergraduate students fundamental biochemical principles and mechanisms. The aim is to make students in three different programmes (medicine, biomedicine and biomedical laboratory science) understand complex biological phenomena through basic concepts.
Together we investigate aspects of the dynamic interplay between malignant cells and the stromal compartment in tumors. The traditional view of cancer as a genetic disease, with its origin and driving force located to the genome of the cancer cell, has changed over the past decade and embraces a more integrated view of the disease. Although mutations are found in virtually all cancer types, progression to a malignant state is likely governed by deregulation of physiological processes in the tumor microenvironment.Internationally, this area of cancer research gains increased interest and presents strong translational aspects, i.e. focuses on new treatments.