BIOPHARMACEUTICS OF BONE AND CARTILAGE

The focus of our research centres on the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying biopharmaceutical aspects of the joint. At this, we investigate bone, cartilage and synovial tissues with respect to drug targeting, drug transport and drug action as well as regarding extracellular matrix (ECM) functionality in health and disease.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic, degenerative joint disorder growing into a major social and economic burden for society. Laboratory research is performed in cell culture models of primary human chondrocytes and human chondrocyte cell lines aiming to define the alterations of cartilage tissue in OA and inflammatory joint diseases. The expression and regulation of chondrocyte genes such as type II collagen or matrix metalloproteinase-13 under exposure to inflammatory or anabolic cytokines is assessed using quantitative real-time RT-PCR. Furthermore, in cooperation with the Department of Chemistry (University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna), we study the expression of glycosyltransferases and the glycosylation of cartilage extracellular matrix proteins. Considering recent advances in tissue engineering and the avascular nature of cartilage, we evaluate carbohydrate biorecognition processes as mediators of bioadhesion and drug targeting to chondrocytes. In addition, chondroprotective effects of both synthetic and natural compounds are studied at the molecular and cellular level.


Given the prevalent metastasization of primary tumours into bone, skeletal imaging and palliation of severe bone pain represent major tasks in nuclear medicine. In close cooperation with the Department of Nuclear Medicine (Medical University Vienna), we aim to minimize the radiation burden to the patient and interfering signals in the scintigraphic image improving the specific localization of radiopharmaceuticals within the skeletal tissue. At this, dedicated adsorption experiments onto tissues, minerals, and cells involved in bone are used. In addition, the multidrug resistance phenomenon encountered in chondrosarcoma is studied with respect to drug transporters, drug uptake and efflux as well as cell apoptosis.

 

Funding:

2005
STRATAGENE Research Grant

2007 - 2010
Graduate School Initiative ‘Molecular Drug Targets’