Versbacher Straße 5, 97078 Würzburg
Research foci (and basic equipment-based research projects):
The Program Project grant (SFB) 465 "Development and Manipulation of Pluripotent Cells" was established in 1996 and aims at examining the molecular basis of cell fate decisions by pluripotent stem cells and potential use of these cells for tissue regeneration.
17 projects from five different institutes and clinics of the University of Würzburg focus on examination of different cell types - for example cells of the neural tissue, of blood and skin - for their potential to regenerate.
Major topics of research
These projects try to find answers to the question why a cell may take different ways of development and in which way it settles for a special type of cell. They will make approaches feasible to deliberately intervene in the process of differentiation of such cells. A controlled differentiation of stem cells would have a broad range of medical applications. In future it should be possible to treat solid tumours and different forms of leukemia as well as degenerative diseases with the help of such therapeutical measures. It is to be expected that in the long run advances in cell biology will form the foundation for new strategies in gene therapy and tissue reconstruction.
New group leader position
Already during its first funding period the SFB scored some notable scientific success in several of its project areas. In recognition of these achievements, funds for a special research group for a junior scientist were awarded for the second funding period. The research topic for this group is "Establishment of embryonic stem cells for tissue substitution". The scientists in the new SFB are expected to contribute their insights to the national discussion of research in human embryonic stem cells. These cells of the young embryo can be multiplied in laboratory and give rise to cell types of all major human tissues.
Ethical questions in stem cell research
The SFB 465 is presently the only German SFB that examines the qualities of pluripotent and stem cells. Its competence will have some influence on the guideline discussion of future research in human stem cells in Germany. The members of the SFB are aware of the extremely controversial discussion of this topic: on the one hand there should be no misuse of human cells; on the other hand the deliberate manipulation of these cells could contribute to relieve the suffering of patients of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.