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TRR 152: Maintenance of body homeostasis by transient receptor potential channel modules

  • Speaker: Professor Dr. Thomas Gudermann
  • Affiliation: Walther Straub Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology
  • Funding: since 2014

Even under changing environmental conditions, our body has to keep important parameters such as body temperature, blood pressure or blood sugar levels within an optimal range. This physiological regulation is known as homeostasis. TRP ion channels (TRP stands for Transient Receptor Potential), which are versatile cellular sensors involved in the regulation of numerous cellular mechanisms, play a central role in the cellular signal recognition and conversion required for this.

The great importance of TRP channels is underlined by the fact that more than 20 hereditary diseases in humans, which can affect a wide variety of organs and bodily functions, are caused by mutations in TRP genes. "The mechanisms underlying these diseases are still insufficiently understood," said Gudermann. This is where the new SFB will start: The scientists' goal is to elucidate the physiology and pathophysiology of TRP ion channels - in particular with regard to their functions in maintaining body homeostasis.

TRP channels can be stimulated by numerous different physical and chemical stimuli. However, the associated cellular reaction partners are rarely known. The mechanisms by which TRP channels are activated in vivo are therefore one of the research priorities of the new SFB/TRR. "However, the right tools and methods are often lacking for such investigations," said Gudermann. An important goal of the new SFB is therefore the development of suitable new biochemical and pharmacological reagents and techniques.

In order to clarify the function of the TRP channels as comprehensively as possible, the scientists will investigate cells of genetically modified mice as well as human cells. "One of the major advantages of the new SFB is that we have at our disposal cells from patients with certain TRP mutations as well as the largest available mouse model collection with genetically modified trp genes," said Gudermann. The scientists hope to use the new insights gained from the research project to open up new tailor-made therapy options for patients with defective TRP proteins.

Several universities will jointly apply for the new SFB as SFB/Transregio. In addition to the LMU as the host university, the Saarland University on the Homburg campus and the Albert-Ludwigs University in Freiburg are also involved as applicants. Other associated partners are the TU Munich, the University of Heidelberg and the University of Leipzig. The SFB will start its work on July 1, 2014 and will be funded with approximately 10 million euros until 2018.

Source: LMU