Main focus is on the development and use of sensitive and specific methods to determine chemically-induced biological effects and biomarkers of (early) disease in body fluids, cells and tissue.
Early biological effects.
Particular focus is on the use of different test systems ("batteries") to assess genotoxicity and mutagenicity of chemicals in cells isolated from body fluids such as blood and urine of exposed individuals and populations (in vivo), i.e., DNA adducts, DNA strand breaks, micronuclei or chromosomal instabilities. Additional focus is on the use of the aforementioned methods in controlled experimental settings in vitro, i.e. cell lines and primary cells, in order to assess combination effects of mutagens and carcinogens. The spectrum of methods also includes biochemical approaches to assess cytotoxicity, programmed cell death (apoptosis) and the induction and activity of xenobiotic enzymes.
Focus is on the use of epigenetic and biochemical methods to identify suitable cancer-specific biomarkers. For this purpose, biological samples from cancer patients and healthy individuals are analyzed at both the genetic and protein level. The overall aim is to develop noninvasive biomarker-based assays for the diagnosis of primary and recurrent cancer, cancer prognosis and health surveillance. Additional interests include the role of the biomarkers in intracellular signaling pathways and inter-cell communication in order to contribute to the understanding of the tumorigenic process and to identify potential targets for drugs. The spectrum of analyses includes the quantitative determination of DNA methylation, mRNA and protein expression. In addition, cytogenetic analyses are conducted.