The Groningen Research Institute of Pharmacy announces the appointment of Dr. Barbro Melgert as Adjunct Professor in Pharmaceutical Immunology. The group of Melgert explores the use of components of the immune system as new drugs and investigates new targets within the innate immune system for the treatment of respiratory diseases.
An important focus of her group is the behavior of macrophages in lung tissue in the context of diseases like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pulmonary fibrosis. These immune cells are important in protecting the lungs against threats, in stimulating tissue repair, and in maintaining tissue homeostasis. The combination of these different functions within one cell type has only become clear in recent years and using this to our advantage is unexplored territory. Normally macrophages switch from one function to another in a coordinated way with minimal impact on gas exchange. In respiratory diseases, coordination of these different functions is disturbed contributing to the disease process. The group of Melgert investigates whether specific functions of macrophages can either be enhanced or inhibited with novel small molecular drugs or components of the immune system itself, like growth factors or cytokines. The group also has many opportunities for Bachelor and Master research projects that focus on macrophage function.
The research is being done in close collaboration with respiratory clinicians for optimal translation of findings from preclinical research to patient-oriented research. This is an important aspect of the work of Melgert because development of drugs against respiratory diseases is lagging and t he combined respiratory diseases are the number one killer worldwide at the moment.
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