Group Gertsch

Research Focus:

We study the molecular mechanisms of action of small molecules and use them as tools to understand biochemical processes or in drug discovery. We are interested in molecular pharmacology and the mechanistic role of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in inflammation and neuromodulation. In particular, we study how endogenous and potentially therapeutic ligands modulate cellular processes, with a focus on translational aspects.

Our group works on cannabinoid CB2 receptor ligands (recent example), endocannabinoid transport and the hemporessin-like peptide endocannabinoids, the pepcan endocanna-binoids (pepcans), which were recently identified. Pepcan-12 (RVD-hemopressin) is a CB1 negative allosteric modulator and CB2 positive allosteric modulator in vitro (Petrucci et al. 2017). In a SNFS funded project are currently developing a conditional polypoint mutant pepcan-12 knock in mouse model based on our insight that pepcans are exclusively present and possibly generated in noradrenergic cells (Hofer et al. 2015). 

We use chemical biology to address pharmacological questions as well as basic research related to lipid signaling within the arachidonic acid network. Using LC-MS/MS and GC-MS in our laboratory we are interested in metabolic signaling networks in cellular processes. Our group has a strong interest in natural products as chemical scaffolds to manipulate specific biochemical pathways. Within the NCCR TransCure we develop novel endocannabinoid transport and FAAH inhibitors and are interested in mechanisms of endocannabinoid transport, in particular how endocannabinoids traffick between the outer and inner layer of the plasma membrane and how this is coupled to degradation.

We collaborate on research questions related to membrane transporters in disease and biological systems, with a focus on translational research. Our spin-off company Synendos Therapeutics AG is going to develop the first selective endocannabinoid reuptake inhibitors (SERIs) in humans.

For recent publications, please visit the external Group Website for more information.