The graduate training group PULMOSENS is dedicated to an interdisciplinary research, supported by scientists in medicine, physics, chemistry and the engineering sciences, towards the development of innovative sensory and imaging methods which solve the complex problems in the measurement and monitoring of pulmonary epithelial functions and pathological lung changes.
The lung as a organ, its basic understanding as well as its modeling and monitoring its pathological changes has a significant medical and socio-economic background. At the same time, the lung imposes a severe challenge for any measurement system due to its specific structural and functional features - in particular to be mentioned is the lack of a direct sensory access to the lower respiratory tract as well as the unique air-liquid interface (ALI).
PULMOSENS conducts four complementary, thematically related research tracks, each of which has a challenge from the life sciences and in which new targeted sensor methods are developed. The medical questions focus on studying the individual cell, the epithelium, an artificial alveoli system as well as the organ.
The four central projects of PULMOSENS
- Secretion, in particular the mechanisms of surfactant secretion studied in type II pneumocytes
- Transepithelial transport, where the barrier function of the epithelium of the unique air-liquid interface (ALI) is analyzed
- Mechanically induced signaling cascades in the Alveolus, where the interaction of individual cell types of the epithelial and endothelial layer will be investigated in an artifical alveoli system
- Model verification and analysis of lung injury based on gas and blood analysis, in order to macroscopically evaluate the modeling and the bidirectional gas / liquid transport.
Overall, the interdisciplinary, cross-project research on these four central projects of PULMOSENS opens the opportunity to develop multimodal sensor systems that are optimally adapted to the geometric and physiologically unique conditions in the lower airways. The research is lead by experts from complementary fields such as molecular biology, physiology, experimental lung research, materials science, biophysics, analytical chemistry and nanotechnology, integrated circuit and sensor technology.
Newly developed sensors yield insight view to molecular processes
It is expected that the research enabled by the newly developed sensors will provide fundamentally new insights into the molecular processes and signaling pathways in the alveoli and the transepithelial transport processes.
On the long term, understanding the microscopic functionality of the lung along with the macroscopic findings on the overall organ will lead to new therapies for diseases such as COPD or acute lung injury after trauma and sepsis.
From a sensory perspective, lung research with the above-mentioned goals is extremely exciting due to its structural uniqueness: Only a combination of the most recent sensing methods in miniaturized form and with simultaneously high sensitivity can succeed in this context.