Our research program is focused on three domains of biomedical research: the mechanisms of cancer progression, molecular mechanisms of cell differentiation and the genetic basis of skeletal development and disease. We are particularly interested in genetic and epigenetic mechanisms governing these processes. We then translate this knowledge in investigation into molecular mechanisms of drug action to develop a new generation of therapeutic agents.
Our work on cancer progression and metastasis is centered on the functions of histone deacetylases (HDAC) in these processes. Recently, we have expanded our work to search for small compounds targeting histone deacetylases (HDAC) and membrane receptors. We also test several newly synthetized compounds combined with widely used anti-cancer agents (e.g. cisplatin) to establish the most effective strategy for blocking cancer progression and metastasis in experimental conditions. Our results suggest also that natural compounds - coumarins derived from plants used in traditional medicine in Far-East countries, betulin and its natural or synthetic derivatives, as well as Xantohumol could be regarded as potential anti-cancer drugs.
We are also interested in understanding the role of glutamate receptors in cancer. We have shown that these receptors are present in a number of cancer cell lines and tumors. Inactivation of these receptors resulted in reduced proliferation of cancer cells, underscoring the function of glutamate receptors in cancer homeostasis. We have also shown that glutamate receptor antagonists could act as new anti-cancer chemotherapeutics, both, in vitro and in vivo.
We constantly develop advanced molecular biology techniques (e.g. optogenetics, CRISPR, site-directed mutagenesis) and use them to unravel and understand the cell differentiation and the pathogenesis of cancer metastasis and related phenomena, including epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT). A particular emphasis is placed on Notch and other signaling pathways involved in cancer progression, as well as molecular mechanisms of action of potential new anti-cancer agents.
The drug target research is performed in collaboration with local (Department of Synthesis and Chemical Technology of Drugs, Laboratory of Drug-Receptor Interactions, Department of Pathophysiology, Medical University of Lublin, Poland) and foreign research laboratories (Institute of BioMedicine, University of Turku, Finland).
Our department hosts three visiting professors, Adolfo Rivero-Muller (Centre for Biotechnology, Turku, Finland), Przemko Tylżanowski (University of Leuven, Belgium), and Jacek Topczewski (Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute, Northwestern University, Chicago, USA)
We are interested in the processes governing cell differentiation during development as well as during disease progression.
We explore these phenomena at the molecular level, and use cutting-edge techniques to control their functions with the goal of being able to regulate cell signalling at will. Our work spans between cell communication and gene expression modulation, thus multiple receptors are analyzed in our lab and well as top-notch techniques in signaling control such as optogenetics and gene editing.
We are focused on the molecular basis of skeletal development and disease. To investigate that, we have chosen a two-pronged approach. We investigate function of selected genes regulating Wnt and Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) driven signaling cascades involved in skeletal patterning. Independently, using human genetics, we identify novel mutations resulting in skeletal malformations with particular focus on noncoding, regulatory mutations. To accomplish that we use Next Generation Sequencing, chromatin conformation studies and selected model organisms we determine the function of these genes in limb development.
Our work uses mainly in vivo system based on chick, zebrafish and mouse embryos. The latter two are available from the Center of Experimental Medicine located on our campus
Our work is preformed in close collaboration with Skeletal Biology and Engineering Research Center (KU Leuven), Center for Human Genetics (KU Leuven) and Genetics laboratory at Erasmus Medical Center (University of Rotterdam).
Currently the DBMB research team consists of 8 post-docs, and 10 PhD students. We also have 4 technicians directly involved in research projects.
Scientific laboratory space covers an area of 222,5 m2, and include:
confocal microscopy room
Four independent laboratory units for molecular biology and biochemistry experiments