Research Focus

Research Focus

The translational research laboratory of the Clinic and Polyclinic for Visceral-, Thoracic- and Vascular Surgery (VTG) is investigating, among other things, new approaches for the diagnosis and therapy of pancreatic cancer. In this regard, we are working intensively on the characterization of new diagnostic markers for the improvement of the currently available therapy options. Methodologically, we use state-of-the-art molecular biological techniques, i.a. mouse models for tumor diseases, next generation sequencing and special histological approaches. Our team of scientists and physicians is specialized to shed light on the scientific questions from different perspectives, thus help to improve the treatment in the long term.

In the field of islet research, the focus of VTG, led by Prof. Thilo Welsch, primarily lays on three research projects, which are implemented in close collaboration with Prof. Michele Solimena:

Development of a biobank to study the pathophysiological role of the islets of Langerhans in type 2 diabetes

The aim of this project is the establishment of an integrative human biobank into which all patients are integrated who come for pancreatic resection to the University Clinic Dresden. In addition to the detailed assessment of clinical data of diabetes as well as the measurement of oral glucose tolerance, samples from blood, healthy vs. tumorous pancreatic tissue as well as from Langerhans islets are collected. These samples are subsequently processed for various questions. Furthermore, a protocol for mRNA isolation after laser capture microdissection of Langerhans' islets, tumor cells, tumor stroma as well as healthy pancreatic tissue was established.

Investigations of glucagonemia in insulin-deficient ICA512-/- mice and influence of the alpha cell mass on glucagonemia/gluconeogenesis after islet transplantation

Within this project, the reduction of glucagon secretion (induced by a knockout of ICA512) is elucidated. In addition, the function and mass of native alpha cells is investigated after islet transplantation and their influence on gluconeogenesis is determined. Moreover, we also investigate the effect of leptin and metformin on the apoptosis and proliferation of beta cells after islet transplantation in C57BL/6 mice.

Investigation of the role of microRNAs in the regeneration of transplanted islets of Langerhans

Within this project, a mouse model has been developed in which the regeneration of islets of Langerhans is stimulated by partial pancreatectomy. The differential analysis of expressed microRNAs revealed that two microRNAs are specifically overexpressed in regenerating islets. Mice in which these microRNAs were knocked out showed a poorer glucose tolerance as well as a reduced regeneration after partial pancreatectomy. Conversely, a therapeutic overexpression of these microRNAs may potentially increase the beta cell mass before islet transplantation, thus leading to a better outcome of the clinical islet transplantation. For this purpose, a viral vector has been developed which leads to overexpression in vivo, thus improving the regeneration.

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