Lung disease

  • COPD – what causes the lungs to lose their ability to heal?

    The molecule Wnt5a prevents the repair of structures in the lung of COPD patients. Shown here are the alveolar epithelium (green) and immune cells (red). Source: Helmholtz Zentrum München

    In chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the patients’ lungs lose their ability to repair damages on their own. Scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, partner in the German Center for Lung Research (DZL) now have a new idea as to why this might be so. In the ‘Journal of Experimental Medicine’, they blame the molecule Wnt5a for this problem. The first indication of COPD is usually a chronic cough. As the disease progresses, the airways narrow and often pulmonary emphysema develops. This indicates irreversible expansion and damage to the alveoli, or air sacks. "The body is no longer able to repair the destroyed structures," explains Dr. Dr. Melanie Königshoff, head of the Research Unit Lung Repair and Regeneration (LRR) at the Comprehensive Pneumology Center (CPC) of Helmholtz Zentrum München. She and her team have made it their job to understand how this happens.

  • Ectoine reduces chronic lung inflammation: A new therapeutic approach against COPD

    Illustration depicting bronchoconstriction

    Researchers at the IUF – Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine demonstrate for the first time the efficacy of the natural compound ectoine against chronic lung inflammation in an inhalation study with female volunteers from the industrial Ruhr region. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to world health organization (WHO), is currently the third leading cause of death.

  • Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs

    Nanoparticles from combustion engines (shown here) can activate viruses that are dormant in in lung tissue.  Source: Helmholtz Zentrum München

    Nanoparticles from combustion engines can activate viruses that are dormant in in lung tissue cells. This is the result of a study by researchers of Helmholtz Zentrum München, a partner in the German Center for Lung Research (DZL), which has now been published in the journal ‘Particle and Fibre Toxicology’.

    To evade the immune system, some viruses hide in cells of their host and persist there. In medical terminology, this state is referred to as a latent infection. If the immune system becomes weakened or if certain conditions change, the viruses become active again, begin to proliferate and destroy the host cell. A team of scientists led by Dr. Tobias Stöger of the Institute of Lung Biology and Prof. Dr. Heiko Adler, deputy head of the research unit Lung Repair and Regeneration at Helmholtz Zentrum München, now report that nanoparticles can also trigger this process.

  • Neue Wirkstoffanwendung als mögliche personalisierte Therapie bei häufigem Lungenkrebs

    Studienleiter Sebastian Nijman (rechts) und Ferran Fece de la Cruz, Co-Erstautor (links). James Hall/Oxford University

    Eine Untergruppe von Lungentumoren, die bisher als unbehandelbar galt, reagiert extrem empfindlich auf eine kürzlich zugelassene Gruppe von Krebsmedikamenten – das haben Forscher des CeMM Forschungszentrum für Molekulare Medizin der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Universität Oxford herausgefunden. Ihre Studie in Nature Communications eröffnet neue Wege, um eine Therapie für bis zu 10% aller Lungenkrebspatienten zu finden.