The urinary bladder is lined by a multilayered and highly specialised epithelium – the urothelium. It shows a slow continuous turnover rate under normal conditions, but exhibits an enormous regeneration potential when injured, and is able to change its morphology according to special requirements (metaplasia). These properties point into the direction of stem or progenitor cells within the epithelium that generate these capabilities. In addition, the exposition to harmful substances in the urine fosters the development of neoplastic changes. Different types of urothelial carcinoma and phenotypes like squamous carcinoma or adenocarcinoma can be found.
Considering the concept of urothelial stem cells our group works on the morphogenesis of the urothelium, and the origin and spread of malignant and metaplastic urothelial lesions.
In addition, we are interested in the (genetic) mechanisms of tumour growth and progression (non-invasive and invasive cancers). Tumour heterogeneity, clonal evolution and mechanisms of metastasis are the main topics of our projects. Furthermore, we are focusing on the identification of novel therapeutic options potentially useful for the treatment of premalignant as well as invasive urothelial bladder cancer.
We use primary urothelial cell culture and immortalised cell lines, various standard in situ and molecular techniques, next generation sequencing technology and histology based techniques.