Research capacity building through improved knowledge exchange and twinning frameworks for
the Centre of Excellence in Translational Medicine (CETM)

Research groups at the Centre of Molecular and Clinical Medicine are focused on the following areas:

IgLON family cell adhesion molecules and schizophrenia

Prof. Eero Vasar

Research group consists of biologists, clinicians and computer scientists, who work collaboratively to understand the etiology of psychiatric disorders such as depression and schizophrenia. They use genetically engineered rodent models, psychopharmacology and molecular biological tools to dissect neuronal pathways involved in the regulation of emotional behavior.


Mitochondria in neurodegenerative diseases

Prof. Allen Kaasik

Our mitochondrial medicine research group is focused on the role of mitochondrial dynamics in neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases. We are developing imaging based techniques for rapid quantification of the mitochondrial function and dynamics (incl. mitochondrial quality control mechanisms) in AD and PD neuronal model systems with a view to using these as an endpoint in compound screening. Our aim is also to identify drugable target molecules and pathways to protect mitochondrial function and to support the mitochondrial quality control mechanisms.

Our mitochondrial medicine research group is focused on the role of mitochondrial dynamics in neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases.

Autoimmune diseases

Prof. Pärt Peterson, Dr. Kai Kisand and Prof. Raivo Uibo

We study the cellular and molecular mechanisms of autoimmune diseases. The main research interest is focused on genetic and environmental (viruses, microbiome) factors in autoimmune destruction of pancreatic beta-cells in type 1 diabetes and coeliac disease, and on the role of thymic tolerance in autoimmune polyendocrinopathies.

Figure 8 Staining for Langerin (CD207) on cryostat sections in the epithelium of the villus of the small bowel mucosa (panel B)


microRNAs in allergic and autoimmune diseases

Dr. Ana Rebane and Prof. Külli Kingo

RNA Biology Research Group studies the functions and therapeutic potential of microRNAs in inflammatory skin diseases and asthma. Within the twinning project, we foresee improved knowledge exchange in research areas of our interest and transfer of specific skills, such as mouse models of airway diseases and methods of in vitro and in vivo imaging.

The increased expression of miR-146a in the skin and keratinocytes of atopic dermatitis patients helps to balance inflammatory responses through targeting of NF-κB signaling transducers IRAK1 and CARD10 and chemokine CCL5 and indirect inhibition of numerous other pro-inflammatory factors.


Tumour penetrating peptides for targeted drug delivery

Prof. Tambet Teesalu

The Laboratory of Cancer Biology of CETM focuses on molecular profiling of vascular heterogeneity in tumours and the development of tumour homing peptides for development of precision-guided drugs, imaging agents, and nanoparticles.

A peptide identified in the lab using in-vivo phage display homes to circulating tumor macrophages.
The peptide, codenamed "UNO", shows selectivity for the tumor macrophage phenotype in different cancer models. Shown is a breast tumor of a mouse intravenously injected with UNO (green) showing internalization of the peptide in CD206+ cells (red).
Image courtesy of Pablo Scodeller PhD, Laboratory of Cancer Biology

Additional information

Genetics of Parkinson’s Disease

Prof. Sulev Kõks

Our group studies genetics of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) on the community-based cohort of PD patients. We apply targeted re-sequencing for already known PD genes and exome sequencing to find new PD causing genes. Our group is part of the International Parkinson's Disease Genomics Consortium.