The group is scientifically active in the field of space biology.
Our group is working on the growth behaviour of spheroids from different cell types, for example thyroid carcinoma cells, chondrocytes and endothelial cells in weightlessness. Cells in weightlessness are not influenced by gravitational or centrifugal forces. Therefore, changes in the cells are to be attributed to genetically given cell structures. Under the conditions of weightlessness, these cells start to grow in form of spheroids.
The world-wide first time establishment of space-spheroids can be performed with the help of a so-called Random Positioning Machine (RPM, Dutch Space, NL). The investigation of spheroids might help to avoid animal testings in the field of pharmacology and medicine. They also can be used in cancer research. An important keyword is tissue engineering, which is possible with the help of a RPM (Grimm et al., 2009).
Furthermore, our working group investigates endothelial cells with regard to mechanisms of apoptosis and changes in the extracellular matrix. Under the conditions of weightlessness, endothelial cells growing in form of tubular structures, which might be useful in the field of tissue engineering.
In other studies, we investigate the behaviour of smooth muscle cells, fibroblasts (dermal and cardiac) as well as chondrocytes.