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.

  • How cancer cells flood the lung

    Cells isolated from a malignant pleural effusion. Mutation of KRAS was identified in the tumor cell clone (bottom right). Source: Helmholtz Zentrum München

    Lung cancer patients are particularly susceptible to malignant pleural effusion, when fluid collects in the space between the lungs and the chest wall. Researchers at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, in partnership with the German Center for Lung Research (DZL), have discovered a novel mechanism that causes this to happen. Their study, published in ‘Nature Communications’, also shows that various active substances could potentially be used to treat this condition.

  • 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.

  • Nanoparticles as a Solution Against Antibiotic Resistance?

    Pharmaceutical PhD student Julia Ernst with inhalers of a nanoparticle suspension. Jena researchers are developing an efficient method for treating often deadly respiratory infections. (Photo: Jan-Peter Kasper/FSU)

    Scientists from Medicine and Pharmacy of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany fight Mucoviscidosis with Nanoparticles. Around one in 3,300 children in Germany is born with Mucoviscidosis. A characteristic of this illness is that one channel albumen on the cell surface is disturbed by mutations. Thus, the amount of water of different secretions in the body is reduced which creates a tough mucus. As a consequence, inner organs malfunction. Moreover, the mucus blocks the airways. Thus, the self regulatory function of the lung is disturbed, the mucus is colonized by bacteria and chronic infections follow.

  • 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.

  • Utilizing Findings From Cancer Research: Understanding the Mechanisms of Immunity to SARS-COV-2

    Prof. Mascha Binder, her team and other partners investigate why every person reacts differently to an infection with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. University Hospital Halle

    Why does every person react differently to an infection with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2? Why do some people have no symptoms or only mild symptoms of COVID-19, the disease which it causes? And why do some people become so severely ill that they require ventilators or even die?

    These questions are being investigated by Professor Mascha Binder, director of the Department of Internal Medicine IV at University Hospital Halle (Saale), together with her team and other partners from University Hospital Halle (UKH) and the Hanover Medical School.