Interdisciplinary research project "Mechanical properties of innate immune cells: functional relevance and therapeutic implications in colitis" attracts IZKF grant funding

Prof. Jochen Guck, Director of the Department of Biological Optomechanics, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, in interdisciplinary collaboration with Prof. Maximilian Waldner, Medical Clinic 1 of the Universitätsklinikum Erlangen (UKER), will investigate "Mechanical properties of innate immune cells: functional relevance and therapeutic implications in colitis". By awarding this funding, the Interdisciplinary Center for Clinical Research (IZKF) of the FAU Medical Faculty acknowledges the importance of the research project.

Immune cell transport plays a central role in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) such as Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). Recent data suggest the regulation of cell mechanics as a prerequisite for immune cell transport. However, the functional significance of cell mechanics in IBD has yet to be investigated.

In their research project, the researchers now aim to use preclinical models to gain insights into the mechanisms responsible for changes in the mechanics of innate immune cells in colitis. Using advanced biophysical techniques such as real-time deformability cytometry (RT-DC) and Brillouin microscopy ­– both developed by the Guck division – previous studies have demonstrated that disease activity and treatment (e.g. 5-aminosalicylates) affect the size and deformability of innate immune cells (mainly neutrophils) in patients with IBD. Building on these findings, we will now explore the functional consequences of the altered deformability of these immune cells in acute colitis. In addition, the mechanics of innate immune cells will be modulated and investigated as a novel therapeutic strategy for innate immune cell transport in UC.

The Interdisciplinary Center for Clinical Research (IZKF) is the central instrument for research funding at the Universitätsklinikum Erlangen (UKER). The goals of the IZKF are to improve the networking of research groups and the quality of clinical research at the Medical Faculty of FAU, to support the scientific development of young scientists, and to strengthen the ability of the Medical Faculty to obtain third-party funding



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