Tracking the vascular und nervous system
DFG supports team of scientists with approximately 2.8 million Euros / Spokesperson in Münster
The cells of the vascular and nervous system make their own higly branched network in the body. Yet, both systems are in close contact with each other. There are still many open questions as to how exactly they are connected to each other. Scientists from Münster, Frankfurt (Main), Heidelberg, Karlsruhe and Berlin now aim to find answers to these questions in a Research Unit, financed by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).
The insights should also help to understand how various diseases develop. Spokesperson of the new Unit, which is financed by the DFG with approximately 2,8 million Euros for the next three years, is Ralf Adams, Professor at the Medical Faculty of the Westphalian Wilhelms-University (WWU) and Director of the Department Tissue Morphogenesis at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine (MPI) in Münster.
The vascular and nervous systems use common molecular signals during their development. Often, they emerge interdependently and in parallel. Yet, how does this coordination occur? "Apparently, there are signals that control the growth of these cellular systems during development in a joint manner. But we do not understand the details of how this coordination is working", says Ralf Adams, who also is involved in the Cluster of Excellence "Cells in Motion" (CiM). Other questions raised by the scientists concern the blood-brain-barrier. This special barrier protects the vulnerable brain against the invasion of immune cells from the bloodstream, because they can damage the neurons in the brain. Particularly in this barrier, cells of the vascular and nervous systems are in close contact and build a unit. When this unit is dysfunctional, neurodegenerative disorders, such as Multiple Sclerosis, can emerge.
From Münster, participants of the Research Unit "Interactions at the Neurovascular Interface" are - besides Ralf Adams - Stefan Schulte-Merker (CiM-Professor for Institute for Cardiovascular Organogenesis and Regeneration, Medical Faculty of the WWU) and Wiebke Herzog (Professor at the Faculty of Biology of the WWU and research group leader at the MPI).