Regenerative Pharmacology

Regenerative Pharmacology group has its focus on novel drug targets and experimental drugs to reveal the basis of disease modifying therapies of illnesses with unmet medical need, especially degenerative heart and - brain diseases (including drug and alcohol addiction). We explore possibilities of tissue repair by inducing proliferation and differentiation of adult stem cells in the heart and in the brain by chemical and/or protein drugs. Dissolution and imaging of aberrant proteins in the brain relevant to Parkinson’s disease as well as levodopa-induced dyskinesias are in focus. Therapeutic drug targets include transcription factors, protein kinase C (PKC), prolyl oligopeptidase and cell surface receptors such as nicotinic and histaminergic receptors and receptors involved in drug addiction. Unit's principal investigators are listed below.
Tomi Rantamäki, Unit Leader

Laboratory of Neurotherapeutics, led by Professor Tomi Rantamäki, investigates mechanisms underlying rapid and sustained antidepressant actions. Major focus is understanding how sleep and chronobiology are connected with the neuroplastic and antidepressant effects of subanesthetic-dose ketamine, nitrous oxide and sleep deprivation. The findings will be utilised to develop potential novel drugs and other treatment approaches for major depression.

Mikko Airavaara

We are interested in BRAIN✓REPAIR after injury and neurodegeneration, aiming to find new mechanisms and ways to restore and regenerate the damaged brain. We are curious about endoplasmic reticulum protein homeostasis in regulating the function of a brain cell in health and disease. We aim to understand myeloid cell and neuron interactions and study the mechanisms of protein aggregation (alpha-synuclein) and spreading. We have developed new unbiased ways for high-content image analysis to quantify numbers of neurons, Lewy bodies and neurites. We work with cell cultures (primary, immortalized, iPSC-derived neurons), disease models, and CRISPR-based genome editing to develop quantitative tools to measure pharmacological processes in cell culture and in vivo.

We have a passion for excellent-level research and high-quality international training. With international collaborators, we can push the frontiers of science. Our mission is to provide the highest quality science-based teaching and training.

Arturo Garcia-Horsman

Imaging. Development of new tracers for neuroinflammation, disease bio-marking; characterisation of models of neurodegenerative disease in rodents for the validation of new therapeutic approaches against the disease. Developing new imaging systems for drug absorption.

Prolyloligopeptidase. Implication of prolyl specific peptidases role as drug targets, studying their biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology, their physiological relevance on the molecular mechanisms of neuroinflammation, neurodegeneration and clinical cases of multiple sclerosis and hepatic encephalopathy.

Timo Myöhänen

Our research is focused on understanding the mechanisms of how prolyl oligopeptidase, PREP, increases the accumulation of aggregation-prone proteins in neurodegenerative diseases, and studying if small-molecule PREP inhibitors are effective in preventing the protein accumulation or even dissolve the surplus of toxic protein aggregates from cells. Currently, a lot of our research efforts are also in studying the role and mechanisms of PREP and its inhibition on autophagic clearance of protein aggregates, and to characterize and develop novel PREP inhibitor molecules.

Petteri Piepponen

Doc. Piepponen is an expert in neurochemical analysis. He has set up and maintains the HPLC systems for the analysis of monoamines and amino acid neurotransmitters from large array of matrices, including cerebral tissue samples and microdialysates. These systems are widely used also in cooperation with several other units and industry. Doc. Piepponen is also an expert in ethical issues of experimental animals and statistical testing. His main research interest is the role dopaminergic neurotransmission in drug and alcohol addiction.

Heikki Ruskoaho, professor emeritus

The research group studies novel interventions for preventing myocardial remodeling or to activate regenerative pathways. In particular, transcription factors are the main focus as potential targets for new pharmaceuticals. The group also investigates signaling mechanisms involved in myocardial remodeling caused by myocardial infarction and hypertension and the role of natriuretic peptides (ANP and BNP) in heart failure. In addition, a new area of interest is research on the heart regeneration by means of induction of the differentiation of cardiac stem cells into cardiomyocytes, proliferation of cardiomyocytes and direct reprogramming of fibroblasts into cardiomyocytes. Finally, with collaborators the group examines novel drug delivery approaches to target cardioprotective compounds into the border zone of infarcted myocardium.

Virpi Talman

The regenerative cardiac pharmacology research group led by Virpi Talman investigates molecular mechanisms of heart diseases and cardiac regeneration. By elucidating these mechanisms, we aim to identify new potential drug targets for further drug discovery projects, in which we screen and characterise new compounds designed and synthesized by our collaborators. Our current targets of interest include protein kinases, transcription factors and metabolic pathways. We utilise modern techniques such as human pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiovascular cells and high content analysis.

Nelson Totah

We seek to uncover the neuronal computations that enable us to monitor our actions, change our mind, and learn from our mistakes. We also study how these cognitive processes influence the body (i.e., the mind-body connection) and the role of interoception in driving adaptive behavior. We employ treadmill-based behavioral tasks for rats, along with recordings of pupillometry, spiking of large neuronal populations, and high density EEG recordings, as well as using optogenetics. We collaborate with biomedical engineers and mathematicians with the ultimate goal of instantiating these neuronal computations on brain-machine interfaces to imbue them with in silico cognition.

Raimo Tuominen, professor emeritus

The aim of the research is to find basis for disease modifying drug therapies of neurodegenerative diseases, i.e. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD). In AD we concentrate on experimental drugs that modify activity of protein kinase C (PKC). Our focus is on PKC partial agonists that would reduce formation of aberrant amyloid beta fragments. In PD we explore possibilities to induce adult neural stems cells in sub ventricular zone and differentiate them to mature neurons in striatum. We also study effects and mechanisms of action of neurotrophic factors in experimental PD. In this respect novel neurotrophic factors CDNF and MANF are promising disease modifying therapies with unique mechanism of action.

Merja Voutilainen