Tumor diseases (cancer) represent a large health, mental and social problem for patients, their surroundings and the whole society. Changing the lifestyle, the environment, and the increase in average age of the population are the causes of increasing number of diseases and new oncology cases. Research conducted at CIB in the field of nanomedicine addresses a major issue associated with chemotherapy, namely its undesirable side effects, and focuses on two basic approaches solve this problem:
- Development of a selective nanotransport system for targeted transport of antitumor drugs.
The main aim of this approach is the development of a new generation of transport systems capable of efficiently transferring sufficient amount of drugs with a strong binding affinity for specific receptors on tumor cell surface. This designed drug delivery system has the potential to be effectively modulated for the mutated tumor receptors of individual patients, thereby contributing to the personalized treatment of tumor diseases.
- Photodynamic therapy (PDT)
The main objective of this approach is to describe the mechanisms of cell death induced by photodynamic action and based on this description propose more efficient PDT on the cellular level. Consequently, based on the knowledge gained at the cellular level, to propose PDT protocols at the level of the CAM model system (chicken embryo membrane), in vivo (animal models) with potential application in the selective treatment of human tumors.
Development and research of proteins used in biological therapy.
Research focuses on the development and characterization of proteins and enzymes with new properties suitable for medical, diagnostic and biotechnological applications. The development of new proteins/enzymes with the desired properties will be based on the use of state-of-the-art techniques of rational design of mutations in these biomacromoles and so-evolutionary methods such as display (ribosomal and yeast) technologies. Special emphasis will be placed on the research and development of proteins based on DARPins and monoclonal antibodies that are successfully used in the biological treatment of patients. These proteins are able to recognize the characteristic epitopes of complex proteins, e.g. specific receptors on cancer cells, as well as simple an/organic ligands with high specificity and affinity. The newly created proteins will subsequently be used for diagnostic and medical purposes, e.g. detection of specific receptors on tissues and targeted transport of drugs to the affected tissue.
Aging and oxidative stress
This research includes two mutually complementing areas: molecular bioenergetics of cellular respiration and bioenergetics of the cell and oxidative stress. These areas cover a wide range of modern bioenergetic research, starting with the study of coupling electron and proton transport, determination of the principles for pumping protons through biological membranes and control of electron transport in complexes of respiratory chain, through the investigation of the connection between the production of reactive oxygen molecules and the structural compactness and function of mitochondria, the identification of factors that regulate and control the oxidative-antioxidant stability in cells, and furthermore the understanding of cell death mechanisms associated with changes in the structure and functions of mitochondria. Research in these areas is currently offering many findings that can contribute to clarifying fundamental questions about the aging process and related mechanisms of origin and development of many serious diseases (especially cancer and neurodegenerative diseases).
In this theme, we are developing reliable and sensitive methods for detecting very low drug concentrations in the biological environment, as well as environmental pollutants in water and food. We focus on the development of nano-sensors based on modified metal surfaces (especially silver and gold) suitable for detecting low concentrations of molecules by surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS). Research in this area is closely coordinated with activity of SAFTRA Photonics s.r.o, which acquired a major international project in 2017 within the frame of SME – H2020 programme. This project is focusing on the development and optimization of the nano-chip for detection of low concentrations of organochloride pesticides in water and food.