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About the Institute

 

Many advances in modern drug therapy were inspired by nature, which provides a high diversity of evolutionary optimized scaffolds. The interest in phytotherapy is growing and more and more studies show evidence for efficacy, though the physiologically relevant modes of action often remain obscure. This discrepancy is especially relevant for the field of lipid research, where the great technical advances in chromatography and mass spectrometry of the last decade revealed the enormous diversity of lipids and paved the way for new therapeutic approaches.

Some lipids are clearly linked to disease. Prostaglandins, for example, mediate the classical symptoms of inflammation, such as reddening, swelling, fever and pain. While the biological functions of the majority of lipids are still elusive, increasing evidence shows that many lipids have specific tasks in the cell. Targeting lipid profiles by natural products has therefore high therapeutic potential.

At the Michael Popp Institute, we investigate how natural products act. Our major focus is on inflammation and diseases with an inflammatory component, which includes besides classical inflammation also degenerative diseases, metabolic diseases and cancer. Our long-term goal is to develop novel, innovative phytopharmaceuticals. Moreover, we use natural products as molecular tools to learn more about the physiological processes in the body, which again helps us to improve therapeutic strategies in an interdisciplinary approach. At the heart of our research is a powerful mass spectrometric lipidomics platform, which allows us to quantitatively analyze a broad spectrum of lipids.

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