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Projects

  • Future Danube

    The microbiological water quality of the Danube: healthy recreational environments and a safe drinking water supply towards the next decades

    • Project Number: LSC19-016
    • Project Lead: Andreas Farnleitner, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Water Quality and Health
    • Project Partner: Technische Universität Wien / Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management, Medical University of Vienna / Institute for Hygiene and Applied Immunology, Lower Austrian Government / Department of Water
    • Duration: 36 months starting from 01.10.2021
  • Verkörperte Erfahrung

    Verkörperte Erfahrung. Aktuelle Perspektiven wissenschaftsphilosophischer und empirischer Forschung auf die Grundbegriffe und Grundannahmen der psychoanalytischen Objektbeziehungstheorie

    • Project Number: SC20-008
    • Project Lead: Patrizia Giampieri-Deutsch, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Psychodynamics
    • Duration: 36 months starting from 01.10.2021
  • DDI2

    DDI2 as novel therapeutic target in Multiple Myeloma treatment

    • Project Number: LSC19-012
    • Project Lead: Martin Willheim, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Institute of Laboratory Medicine (University Hospital St. Pölten)
    • Project Partner: IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems
    • Duration: 36 months starting from 01.09.2021
  • Health care personnel

    Demand forecast for health care personnel in Lower Austria until 2040

    • Project Lead: Franz Kolland, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Gerontology
    • Duration: 2 months starting from 01.05.2021
  • Age almanac 2023

    Age almanac 2023

    • Project Lead: Franz Kolland, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Gerontology
    • Duration: 22 months starting from 01.05.2021
  • LVLSTAT

    Mechanical characterization of veneer-wood joints - static tests

    • Project Lead: Andreas Reisinger, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Biomechanics
    • Project Partner: LUXNER Engineering ZT
    • Duration: 3 months starting from 01.04.2021
  • Hygiene over time

    Hygiene over time

    • Project Lead: Beate Schrank, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapeutic Medicine (University Hospital Tulln)
    • Project Partner: Picapipe
    • Duration: 12 months starting from 01.04.2021
  • Hygiene Rules

    Hygiene Rules

    • Project Lead: Beate Schrank, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapeutic Medicine (University Hospital Tulln)
    • Project Partner: Picapipe
    • Duration: 12 months starting from 01.04.2021
  • Teaching to Be

    T2B: Supporting teachers’ professional growth and wellbeing in the field of social and emotional learning

    • Project Number: Erasmus+ 626155
    • Project Lead: Joviltė Beržanskytė, Lithuanian children and youth center
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapeutic Medicine (University Hospital Tulln)
    • Duration: 36 months starting from 28.02.2021
  • VIWA 2020+

    Vienna Water Ressource Systems 2020+

    • Project Lead: Andreas Farnleitner, Technische Universität Wien / Research Center Water and Health
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Water Quality and Health, Medical University of Vienna / Institute for Hygiene and Applied Immunology, Stadt Wien / MA 39, Prüf-, Inspektions- und Zertifizierungsstelle
    • Duration: 96 months starting from 01.02.2021
  • Calcium Channel Subunits

    Novel model systems for studying the role of calcium channel subunits in brain disorders

    • Project Number: LSC19-017
    • Project Lead: Gerald Obermair, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Physiologie
    • Project Partner: IST Austria, University of Innsbruck / Pharmakologie und Toxikologie
    • Duration: 36 months starting from 01.01.2021
  • STAT3

    STAT3 isoforms in hematopoietic disorders

    • Project Number: LSC19-019
    • Project Lead: Dagmar Stoiber-Sakaguchi, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Pharmakologie
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Internal Medicine 2 (University Hospital Krems), Medical University of Vienna / Institute of Pharmacology
    • Duration: 36 months starting from 01.01.2021

    Background

    Aberrant activation of the Janus kinase (JAK)/signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) signaling pathway
    is frequently associated with tumor development and the constitutive activation of STATs lies at the root of different
    hematopoietic malignancies. While several STAT members have been described to act as oncogenes, the transcription
    factor STAT3 serves as paradigm for tumorigenic signaling within this family. STAT3 has been described to promote
    proliferation as well as differentiation and it is the loss of transcriptional targets associated with differentiation, which is
    linked to the acquisition of tumorigenic potential.
    The goal of this project is to analyze the contribution of STAT3 isoforms to hematopoietic disorders. We plan to
    investigate how the shorter isoform, STAT3β, acts as tumor suppressor during acute myeloid leukemia,
    myelodysplastic syndrome as well as multiple myeloma. Furthermore, we aim to elucidate whether the balance of the
    two isoforms may help to predict patient outcome. This study is expected to shed light on the function of the shorter
    isoform STAT3β and STAT3-mediated control of leukocytes.

  • Covid-19 Aktives Altern

    Covid-19 Aktives Altern

    • Project Lead: Franz Kolland, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Gerontology
    • Duration: 10 months starting from 01.12.2020
  • Covid-19 Pflegekräfte

    Covid-19 Pflegekräfte

    • Project Lead: Franz Kolland, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Gerontology
    • Project Partner: SeneCura
    • Duration: 25 months starting from 01.12.2020
  • DiabPeerS

    Diabetes Peer Messaging: Improving glycaemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus through peer support instant messaging: a randomized controlled trial (diabetes peer messaging)

    • Project Number: LSC18-021
    • Project Lead: Elisabeth Höld, FH St. Pölten / Institute of Health Sciences
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Internal Medicine 1 (University Hospital St. Pölten), Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Psychological Methodology
    • Duration: 36 months starting from 01.11.2020

    Background

    Diabetes mellitus is one of the four priority non-communicable diseases worldwide. Globally, 425 million adults suffered
    from diabetes mellitus (7.2-11.3%) in 2017 and the International Diabetes Federation estimates an increase of 48% of
    the prevalence until 2045. Type 2 diabetes, which is the most common type of diabetes, is mainly seen in adults older
    than 40 years. Diabetes can lead to serious long-term complications as well as a lower quality of life, worse mental
    health and a reduced life expectancy. These health consequences produce significant health care costs. Due to the
    chronical character of diabetes, the disease requires continuous therapy, regular medical appointments and a good
    adherence of those suffering. Therefore, diabetes self-management education (DSME) plays a significant role to
    increase patient’s self-management capacity and improve diabetes therapy. Research indicates that these outcomes
    might be difficult to maintain and seem to decline soon after DSME ends. Consequently, effective strategies to preserve
    the positive effects of DSME are needed. Preliminary results show that peer support, which means support from a
    person who has experiential knowledge of a specific behaviour or stressor and similar characteristics as the target
    population, is associated with better outcomes in terms of HbA1c, cardiovascular disease risk factors or self-efficacy at
    lower cost compared to standard therapy. Although those results are promising, research on peer support in diabetes
    care is still in its infancy and the influence of various factors is unclear. Peer support instant messaging services (IMS)
    approaches have significant potential for diabetes management because support can be provided easily and prompt, is
    inexpensive and needs less effort to attend compared to standard therapy. Furthermore, almost half of the 40-69 year
    old age group, which is mostly affected by the onset of type 2 diabetes, use IMS.
    Aim
    The major objective of the project is to analyse the impact of a peer supported IMS intervention in addition to a
    standard diabetes therapy on the glycaemic control of type 2 diabetic patients.
    Methods
    A total of 198 participants with type 2 diabetes mellitus, older than 40 years, and insured by the Insurance Company for
    Railways and Mining will be included and randomly assigned to intervention or control group. Both groups will receive
    standard therapy, but the intervention group will use the peer support IMS tool, additionally. The duration of the
    intervention will last for seven months, followed by an follow-up of seven months. Biochemical, behavioural and
    psychosocial parameters will be measured before, in the middle, and after the intervention as well as after the
    follow-up.

  • Failure criterion for bone screws

    A morphology based failure criterion for implanted bone screws

    • Project Number: SC19-014
    • Project Lead: Andreas Reisinger, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Biomechanics
    • Duration: 36 months starting from 01.10.2020
  • WOODFAT

    WOODFAT: Mechanical fatigue tests on wood composite panels

    • Project Lead: Andreas Reisinger, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Biomechanics
    • Project Partner: virtual vehicle Research GmbH
    • Duration: 6 months starting from 01.08.2020
  • Danube-ARC

    Danube Allergy Research Cluster - Towards Cure of Allergy

    • Project Number: K3-T-74/001-2019
    • Project Lead: Rudolf Valenta, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Dermatology and Venereal Diseases (University Hospital St. Pölten), Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Otorhinolaryngology (University Hospital Krems), Medical University of Vienna, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology
    • Duration: 36 months starting from 01.08.2020
  • COVID19-CARE

    Impact of the corona pandemic in long-term care

    • Project Lead: Franz Kolland, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Gerontology
    • Project Partner: SeneCura
    • Duration: 30 months starting from 15.07.2020
  • Paths through Corona

    Paths through the corona crisis of psychosocial support services for children and families

    • Project Lead: Beate Schrank, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapeutic Medicine (University Hospital Tulln), Beate Schrank, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / D.O.T. - Die offene Tür (The Open Door)
    • Project Partner: Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft / Forschungsgruppe DOT, Liga für Kinder- und Jugendgesundheit
    • Duration: 6 months starting from 01.07.2020
  • Dissertation project: STAT3α and STAT3β

    Unraveling the role of STAT3 isoforms in acute myeloid leukemia

    • Project Number: SC19-019
    • Project Lead: Dagmar Stoiber-Sakaguchi, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Pharmakologie
    • Duration: 36 months starting from 01.07.2020
  • POPP

    Process and Outcome in psychotherapeutic practice

    • Project Lead: Thomas Probst, Danube University Krems / Department of Psychotherapy
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Psychotherapy- and Counselling Sciences study programme
    • Duration: 60 months starting from 01.05.2020

    Background

    While most studies on the effectiveness of psychotherapy have been carried out in research institutions, only a few were conducted under clinically representative conditions. In order to close this research gap, clinically representative psychotherapy outcome studies have been carried out in other countries such as Germany and Switzerland in recent years. For Austria, however, there are no representative data on the effectiveness of psychotherapy under practical conditions available.
    herefore, the present study aims to investigate individual psychotherapies under practical conditions in outpatient treatment. In addition to the effectiveness (outcome), the process of psychotherapy is also examined. As a process variable, the focus lies on the therapeutic alliance. Emphasis will be placed here on researching the influence of the gender combination in the therapeutic dyad with their benefits and risks. .
    For this purpose, outpatient individual psychotherapy of adult patients, carried out by trained psychotherapists who are registered in the list of psychotherapists of the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection, is studied. Quantitative and qualitative research methods are combined in an elaborate design. While the quantitative part is based on standardized questionnaires to collect data on the research question in terms of its dimensions and depth, in the qualitative part the fine nuances shades of the therapeutic elements and therapeutic dynamics, which are difficult to grasp, are revealed by problem-centered semi-structured interviews with open questions, in particular through the approach of grounded theory and corresponding content analyzes. Each of the participating psychotherapists should include 2-3 patients in the study. The consecutively next patient with whom psychotherapy is started will be invited by the psychotherapist to participate in the study (without selection according to symptoms, severity of suffering, etc.). In this way, the diversity of the patient population will be well represented.

  • Covid-19 and social distancing in old age

    Covid-19 and social distancing in old age: A survey of the population 60+ in Lower Austria

    • Project Lead: Franz Kolland, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Gerontology
    • Duration: 4 months starting from 01.04.2020

    Background

    Ältere Menschen gelten als Risikogruppe der Covid-19-Pandemie und viele der aktuell getroffenen Maß-nahmen wie Social Distancing werden zum Schutz dieser Bevölkerungsgruppe getroffen. Gesellschaftspoli-tisch und wissenschaftlich höchst relevant ist die Frage, welche Auswirkungen Covid-19 auf die psychische Vulnerabilität, die sozialen Beziehungen und den Alltag der älteren Menschen hat. Wie verändern sich die familialen Generationenbeziehungen? Steigt bspw. das Gefühl der Einsamkeit bzw. durch welche (Schutz-) Faktoren (u.a. IKT) lässt sich dieses hintanhalten? Wie verändern sich das Einkaufsverhalten und die Frei-zeitgestaltung und gibt es Unterschiede nach sozialer Lage? Wie wird die Selbstwirksamkeit, dh. das Ge-fühl „Gebraucht-zu-Werden“ beeinflusst? Reagieren ältere Frauen anders als ältere Männer? In Beantwor-tung dieser Fragen kann durch die geplante Studie nicht nur der aktuelle Ist-Zustand älterer Menschen nachgezeichnet, sondern können in der Identifikation von Problembereichen und Risikogruppen Maßnah-men für zukünftige Ereignisse entwickelt werden.

  • Dissertation project – Health relevance of Vibrio cholerae in bathing waters

    Assessing the public health relevance of Vibrio cholerae in bathing waters in Lower Austria: distribution, abundance, diversity and potential pathogenicity

    • Project Number: SC19-006
    • Project Lead: Alexander Kirschner, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Water Quality and Health
    • Duration: 36 months starting from 01.04.2020

    Background

    Vibrio cholerae is a natural inhabitant of aquatic ecosystems and the causative agent of the devastating disease cholera. Cholera is caused by toxigenic strains belonging to the serogroups O1 and O139. However nontoxigenic V.cholerae (NTVC) cause several other kinds of infections with potential fatal outcome. In the past 20 years, NTVC infections have been significantly increasing in Europe in association with global warming. In Lower Austria, two extreme cases occurred for the first time in 2015. Both cases were associated with bathing activities during an extreme summer heatwave. To date, the decisive factors controlling NTVC occurrence in inland bathing waters are not clear.
    Such information and the availability of reliable NTVC quantification methods are prerequisite to enable prediction models and early warning systems of NTVC occurrence. Besides cultivation on microbiological media, molecular and cell-based methods have been developed. So far, cell-based detection combining fluorescence labelling (FISH) and solid phase cytometry (SPC) proved most successful for NTVC quantification. However, FISH/SPC does not differentiate V.cholerae from closely related species, and it is extremely labor intensive and expensive. In this project, an approach based on alternative molecular recognition molecules –APTAMERS– are proposed. Aptamers are short oligonucleotides that bind their target with high selectivity and affinity. They have proven equally efficient as antibodies in many applications. Once an aptamer is identified, unlimited amounts can be produced at low costs. To date, however, there are no aptamers available for V.cholerae.
    Two main goals shall be achieved. First, NTVC abundance shall be comprehensively monitored with state-of-the-art methods along environmental and spatiotemporal gradients in representative bathing waters, and second, a new cutting-edge aptamer technology shall be developed for tailored quantification of NTVC and V.cholerae O1/O139. Prediction models of NTVC abundance in bathing waters shall be delivered as tools for risk assessment and easy protocols for culture-independent quantification of V.cholerae. This will significantly contribute to improved disease preparedness and public health concerning NTVC in bathing waters and toxigenic V.cholerae in water resources. The resulting aptamer products, applications and intellectual property may be exploited in follow-up translational projects, in form of spin-off companies or transfer to local third-party enterprises. The proposal is directly contributing to the prioritised research area “Intelligent Indication Systems and Diagnostics” within the recent FTI strategy for Lower Austria. Sustainable collaborations will be stimulated between the project partners within the Interuniversity Cooperation Centre Water & Health, a research centre to pioneer cutting edge water quality research. Thus, the project will contribute in a sustainable manner to the welfare of Lower Austria.

  • COVY

    Problems and solutions of the community-based care network for persons with a mental illness under COVID-19

    • Project Lead: Project Partner, IMEHPS.research
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapeutic Medicine (University Hospital Tulln), Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / D.O.T. - Die offene Tür (The Open Door)
    • Duration: 4 months starting from 01.04.2020
  • RIBUST – Efficiency of riparian strips for the protection of water quality

    Efficiency of RIparian BUffer Strips to protect water quality against impacts from land use and climate change

    • Project Number: K3-F-130/005-2019
    • Project Lead: Gabriele Weigelhofer, WasserCluster Lunz
    • Project Partner: Federal Agency for Water Management / Institute for Land and Water Management Research, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Water Quality and Health, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna / Institute of Soil Research, Tulln
    • Duration: 48 months starting from 01.03.2020
  • RIVAR – Human-associated antibiotic resistance in rivers of Lower Austria

    A quantitative concept to study human-derived antibiotic resistance in rivers along the human wastewater path

    • Project Number: LSC18-007
    • Project Lead: Alexander Kirschner, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Water Quality and Health
    • Project Partner: University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna / Department of Agrobiotechnology, IFA-Tulln, Medical University Graz, Lower Austrian Government / Department of Water, Medical University of Vienna / Institute for Hygiene and Applied Immunology
    • Duration: 36 months starting from 01.03.2020

    Background

    The rise in antimicrobial resistances is a global threat to human health. Apart from hospitals, where multi-resistant bacteria pose an acute problem, the spread of human-derived antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB) and resistance genes (ARG) from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) into river ecosystems is of growing concern as river water is used for a variety of purposes (drinking water production, recreation, irrigation). Although an increasing number of studies have been published in recent years demonstrating the presence of human-derived ARB and ARG in rivers, no comprehensive quantitative concept exists that describes and explains the distribution patterns, and driving factors of human-derived ARB and ARG in these environments. For this project, a new quantitative concept was developed to study the distribution patterns, propagation pathways and driving factors of human-derived ARB and ARG along four rivers in Lower Austria exhibiting gradients in river size, land use, fecal pollution, hospital wastewater and potential co-selection factors. The following hypotheses shall be tested: (1) In water, human-derived ARB and ARG abundances are coupled to the extent of fecal pollution from WWTPs and to the extent of wastewater input from hospitals. This coupling is independent from the longitudinal development of the river. (2) In biofilms, human-derived ARB and ARG abundances can be uncoupled from the extent of fecal pollution and from hospital wastewater input. In the presence of specific ecological selection factors such as metals or pesticides, anamplification of ARB and ARG occurs. The new concept is based on the quantification of human-derived ARB and ARG in specific bacterial targets, determined in water and biofilms by a combined cultivation and DNA-based approach. This information will be linked with quantitative data on the extent and sources of fecal pollution (following the human wastewater path) and with a comprehensive assessment of the environmental conditions. This study will stimulate new ideas to understand and manage microbial water quality and antibiotic resistance in rivers.
    At the global level, the proposal is directly addressing the fundamental requirements of the research agenda defined for water, sanitation and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) of the WHO Global Action Plan for AMR. At the European level it directly addresses the concrete action plan to close knowledge gaps on AMR within the EU AMR Action Plan. At the local level, it directly contributes to the prioritised research area “Organic trace substances” within the “Water” topic of the recent FTI strategy for Lower Austria. Sustainable collaborations will be stimulated between the project partners of the ICC Water & Health at KL Krems, of the department IFA-Tulln of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna and of the Medical University Graz. By this, the project will contribute in a sustainable manner to the welfare of Lower Austria and beyond.

  • STAT3 isoforms in acute myeloid leukemia

    Unraveling the role of STAT3 isoforms in acute myeloid leukemia

    • Project Number: P 32693-B
    • Project Lead: Dagmar Stoiber-Sakaguchi, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Pharmakologie
    • Duration: 48 months starting from 01.02.2020

    Background

    Many cancers are associated with aging, and leukemia as a cancer originating from blood stem cells, is strongly linked with age. Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) represents the second most common type of pediatric leukemia and the most common leukemia type in adults older than 50 years. With growing age also survival chances of patients decrease.
    One of the key signaling pathways in cancer development is the JAK/STAT pathway. Within this proposal we focus on two variants of one component of this pathway, namely STAT3, and their role during AML development. The expression of these STAT3 isoforms impacts on disease prognosis and may influence disease outcome. We aim to analyze the contribution of STAT3 isoforms to leukemogenesis with a particular focus on the underlying molecular mechanism. To do so we will use different experimental models of human and mouse tumorigenesis as well as state of the art in vitro experiments.
    We anticipate that our findings on the long run will help to improve clinical management, and that a deeper understanding of the molecular mechanisms of STAT3 isoform function in AML may pave the way for modern individualized treatment strategies of AML patients.

  • ELSA

    Gait-based evaluation of early rehabilitation after ACL reconstruction

    • Project Number: LSC18_018
    • Project Lead: Andrea Zauner-Dungl, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Institute of Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation (University Hospital Krems)
    • Project Partner: FH St. Pölten / Institute of Health Sciences, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Biomechanics
    • Duration: 45 months starting from 15.01.2020

    Background

    A postsurgical treatment after ACL reconstruction is necessary for early return-to-sport as well as to minimize the occurrence of long-term complications. However, the required amount of postsurgical physiotherapeutic supervision remains unclear, as studies concerning less supervision (home-based program) showed sufficient clinical outcomes in home-based groups. Gait plays a major role in rehabilitation process, therefore affordable and simple applicable devices are needed for clinical practice, as 3D gait analysis (gold standard) is expensive. Wearable systems like IMUs (Inertial Measurement Unit) are already used for clinical investigation. Still, there is a lack of appropriate methods and scores for gait assessment, concerning rehabilitation after ACL reconstruction. The aim of the current study is the gait-based assessment of the early rehabilitation progress after ACLre construction.
    For this purpose, a specific ACL rehabilitation score is developed, including multiple aspects of gait as well as clinical parameters. The quality of the score derived by data of a simple, clinically applicable, IMU-based gait analysis device (G-Walk) is evaluated in comparison to a standard 3D gait analysis system. Based on the developed score, the outcome of two different ACL rehabilitation programs (home-based versus standardized) will be determined. Therefore, a clinical study is conducted. Two groups of patients with different postsurgical treatment after ACL reconstruction will be formed. Gait assessments will be carried out 6-7 weeks, 9-10 weeks and 12-13 weeks postsurgical using a simple IMU-based gait analysis system (G-Walk) as well as standard 3D gait analysis system for validation purpose. Pre-existing gait data of healthy people will serve as a control. A new ACL habilitation score will be developed, including clinical parameters (e.g. range of motion, IKDC, Lysholm), standard gait parameters (regarding kinematics, kinetics and spatiotemporal characteristics) as well as more sophisticated gait parameters like symmetry, variability, complexity or local stability. Statistical analysis will be performed to determine the influence of the rehabilitation programs and the adequacy of the score determined from IMU data compared to 3D gait analysis data. The results of the proposed study will not only give information about the impact of physiotherapeutic supervision on the early normalization of gait and if home-based programs can confidently be recommended for specific patients. It will also provide a clinically applicable method for gait assessment which can be integrated in the routinely follow-up procedure after ACL reconstruction and used to answer related scientific questions. Furthermore, the proposed method can lay the basis for the development of similar scores in different fields of rehabilitation or therapy assessment.

  • ACCESS POINT Oncology

    Molecular oncology research to develop new treatment strategies based on clinical (OIS) and biological (biobank) datasets

    • Project Number: K3- F-730/003-2020
    • Project Lead: Klaus Podar, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Molecular Oncology / Hematology
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Internal Medicine 2 (University Hospital Krems), Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Pharmakologie, FH St. Pölten / Institute for IT Security Research, MedAustron
    • Duration: 48 months starting from 01.01.2020
  • High Content Imaging

    High-content optical imaging to decode human immune cell interactions in health and allergic disease

    • Project Number: LSC18_022
    • Project Lead: Johann Danzl, IST Austria
    • Project Partner: Stanford University / Department of Pathology, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Internal Medicine 2 (University Hospital St. Pölten), Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Otorhinolaryngology (University Hospital St. Pölten)
    • Duration: 36 months starting from 01.12.2019

    Background

    Allergic disease is a clinical and societal burden in Lower Austria and elsewhere. Severe food allergy can manifest as anaphylactic reaction with potentially fatal outcome. IgE-mediated food allergy in children is increasing, affecting 3-8% of under 4 year olds, with peanut as most common specificity. IgE-producing B-cells and IgE-primed mast cells are critical to TH2 driven, Type I hypersensitivity allergic reactions, but the full scope of altered immunity in these patients and the basis for oral immunotherapy efficacy are unknown, particularly in the solid tissues of the human body.
    Here, we propose to analyze the cellular organization of the human immune system in health and allergic disease. Our interdisciplinary consortium consists of Dr. Danzl (IST) providing optical imaging, Dr. Boyd (Stanford) contributing immunology expertise, and clinical partners Dr. Maieron and Dr. Sprinzl (St. Pölten) providing human patient tissue biopsies to link our scientific findings to the clinic.
    We will further develop imaging technology to characterize transcriptional profiles of single cells in native tissue context. This identifies cell types, subtypes, and activation states, as well as their spatial arrangements and interactions. We will define molecularly-informed cellular microenvironments or “tissue niches” by detecting hundreds to thousands of different mRNAs in highly multiplex single-molecule RNA fluorescence in situ hybridization. We will also develop multiplex protein imaging, with the same goal of decoding patterns of spatial relationships.
    We will verify detection of known spatial organization features in human tonsils and Peyer’s patches. We will then extract novel information by defining cell type specific “interactomes” and specific microenvironments or niches based on detailed molecular and spatial information in our multiplex imaging.
    We then focus on gastrointestinal (GI) mucosa-associated immune cells and characterize microenvironments of lymphocytes and effector cells. We emphasize IgE-producing B-cells/plasma cells, and evaluate how their microenvironments differ from those of B-cells and plasma cells producing other antibody isotypes, such as IgA or IgG4. The latter may serve a protective role against allergic disease.
    We translate these scientific questions to the clinic by multiplex analysis of patient GI biopsies from a Stanford peanut allergy immunotherapy trial. We hypothesize that not only abundance and location of specific isotype-producing B-cells are shifted in allergy but that specific microenvironments act as major drivers of disease and therapeutic responses.
    Multiplex single cell analysis of GI biopsies of the same patients pre and post oral immunotherapy will identify therapy-related changes in cellular composition, phenotype, and tissue architecture. We propose to define
    multi-parameter, spatially informed biopsy biomarkers predictive of treatment response as basis for a personalized medicine approach to immunotherapy.

  • Biomarker- based therapeutic prevention

    Biomarker- based therapeutic prevention of bone metastases in breast cancer: Defining the pathophysiologic impact of the endosteal niche

    • Project Number: LSC18-010
    • Project Lead: Sonia Vallet, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Molecular Oncology / Hematology, Sonia Vallet, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Internal Medicine 2 (University Hospital Krems)
    • Project Partner: IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems / Department of Life Sciences
    • Duration: 36 months starting from 01.12.2019

    Background

    Breast cancer (BC) is the most common malignancy in women. Most of the tumors are detected at early stages and treated with curative intent. However, up to one third of patients relapse, of which 70% develop bone metastases with survival rates dropping under 10% at 5 years. Efforts to find markers of bone metastases development have so far failed, mainly due to the poor understanding of early pathogenetic steps. Therefore, there remains a need for biomarkers that identify patients at high risk for bone metastases. In addition, despite the frequency of skeletal involvement and the associated morbidity and mortality, effective strategies to prevent bone metastases are lacking. Previous studies identified the endosteum as site of entry for bone metastatic BC cells, where OBs regulate tumor cell migration and survival. Specifically, our own data suggest a key role for pre-OBs in BC bone colonization. Here, I propose to unravel the pathophysiologic role of the endosteal niche, OB lineage cells in particular, during early phases of BM in BC by generating innovative in vitro models of OB differentiation.

  • SIWAWI – Challenges for municipal water management

    Future material and microbiological challenges for the municipal water supply and sanitation

    • Project Number: GZ B900384
    • Project Lead: Philipp Hohenblum, Environment Agency Austria
    • Project Partner: Technische Universität Wien / Institute for Water Quality and Resource Management, Graz University of Technology / Institute of Urban Water Management and Landscape Water Engineering, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna / Institute of Sanitary Engineering and Water Pollution Control, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Water Quality and Health
    • Duration: 24 months starting from 01.10.2019
  • Palisade Endings

    Proprioception in Extraocular Muscles of Mammals: molecular, developmental and functional signatures of palisade endings

    • Project Number: P 32463
    • Project Lead: Roland Blumer, Medical University of Vienna / Center for Anatomy and Cell Biology
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Anatomy and Developmental Biology, University of Seville / Department of Physiology
    • Duration: 48 months starting from 01.09.2019

    Background

    The eyes are the most complex organs of the body and allow us to perceive objects in proper shape, color, and detail. Besides that, individuals know where objects are located in space and this is fundamental to precisely reach out for them or avoid obstacles. For the spatial localization of objects, the brain needs visual information from the retina and additional information in which direction the eyes are pointing.
    The eyes are moved by three pair of eye muscles. It is supposed that eye position information comes from special sensors (proprioceptors) in eye muscles. Surprisingly, classical proprioceptors are absent in eye muscles of most mammals and instead a specialized nerve ending, the so-called palisade ending is present. With the exception of rodents, palisade endings are regularly found in mammals including man.
    For many years there has been consensus that palisade endings are sensors providing the brain with eye position information. The sensory role of palisade endings was put into the question when our analyses showed that palisade endings exhibit molecular characteristics of motor terminals and originate from the motor nuclei in the brain stem. These novel findings have reopened the discussion about the function of palisade endings and it is still not clear whether they are sensory or motor.
    The present project will continue our investigations on palisade endings. In one part of the project we will test whether the development of palisade endings is genetically programmed or influenced by external (epigenetic) factors. The core of the project is to analyze the function of palisade endings. Based on two hypotheses, we will test whether palisade ending have a sensory or motor function. For analyses we will use techniques which are currently state of the art. This includes animal experiments as well as molecular and electrophysiological experiments. The project will be done in international cooperation with the Profs. Angel Pastor and Rosa de la Cruz from the University of Seville.
    Present findings will help to settle a long-lasting discussion about the function of palisade endings. Palisade endings are also found in human EOMs and are destroyed in many surgical procedures to treat strabismus. Thus, knowledge of the functional significance of palisade endings would be of particular interest for strabismus surgeons.

  • Measurement of mechanical strains

    Measurement of mechanical strains on the surface of biological tissues

    • Project Number: SC18-006
    • Project Lead: Dieter Pahr, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Biomechanics
    • Duration: 26 months starting from 01.07.2019

    Background

    Bone is a fascinating, living, and smart load-bearing tissue. It supports the body, facilitates locomotion and acts as protector to inner organs. Understanding of bone mechanical properties helps in developing treatments and clinical applications suitable for more complex and personalized solutions.
    In general, biological tissues are inhomogeneous and anisotropic. To understand mechanical behaviour of biological tissues, a complete description of this behaviour over the whole geometry and shape of the sample is necessary. Bone and soft tissues mechanical properties have been widely investigated with different approaches, such as in vitro experiments and numerical models. Experimentally, strain gauges (SGs) are considered as gold-standard for strain measurements on the bone surface due to their high accuracy. However, measurements with the SGs allow only for discrete points to be evaluated and do not provide full-field strain distribution on the surface of the sample. In addition, SGs require detailed surface preparation. A poor preparation can result in extremely inaccurate results. Transducers and extensometers have been used as well to measure the global strain in bone. All the previous three strain measurement techniques induce perturbation in the results due to their contribution to the load-bearing capacity, lead into a systematic underestimate of the actual strain distribution.
    During the last years, optical measurement techniques based on digital image correlation (DIC) paired with computational power allowed contactless measurement of whole surfaces. Thus, they overcome the limitation of contacting the surface and availability of single measurement points.
    DIC depend on tracking the displacement of recognized features (speckles) on the sample surface. DIC tracks the displacement between deformed and un-deformed digital images of the surface. Based on the digital images, a full-field displacement map is calculated from which a full-field strain map is derived. The accuracy of DIC depends on the quality of the speckles, measurement conditions (light and speckle size and distribution), as well as various software (facet and grid size) and hardware parameters (optics and camera resolution), which must be optimized. Despite the versatile advantages of DIC approach in obtaining full-field strain measurements on the surface of interest, DIC has not been fully exploited yet for measurements on biological samples, and in particular, on bone.
    The aims of this study are: (i) extensively investigate the accuracy and precision of the DIC method based on standardized metallic and polymeric samples under zero-load by evaluating the speckle pattern size and distribution, (ii) validation of the accuracy and precision of DIC measuring system against a precise extensometer; (iii) evaluate 3D full-field strain distribution on the surface of biological tissue like bone and tendon samples; (iv) provide practical guidelines on how to harness the benefits of DIC application to measure strain fields on biological hard and soft tissues.

  • Housing needs in old age

    Housing needs in old age

    • Project Lead: Franz Kolland, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Gerontology
    • Project Partner: SeneCura
    • Duration: 29 months starting from 14.06.2019
  • Active ageing

    Health barometer: Active ageing in Lower Austria

    • Project Lead: Franz Kolland, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Gerontology
    • Duration: 31 months starting from 14.06.2019
  • Whole-Danube-River AMR – Fecal pathways of antibiotic resistance spread along the entire Danube River

    Fecal pathways of antibiotic resistance spread along the entire Danube River

    • Project Number: P32464-B
    • Project Lead: Alexander Kirschner, Medical University of Vienna / Institute for Hygiene and Applied Immunology
    • Project Partner: Medical University Graz, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Water Quality and Health
    • Duration: 48 months starting from 11.06.2019
  • OsteoScrew

    A morphology based failure criterion for implanted bone screws

    • Project Number: LSC17_004
    • Project Lead: Andreas Reisinger, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Biomechanics
    • Project Partner: AIT Austrian Institute of Technology / Center for Health & Bioresources
    • Duration: 48 months starting from 01.06.2019

    Background

    In modern orthopedic surgery, the complication rate due to bone screw breakout and loosening during the convalescence period is still substantial. The surgeon's decision, whether an implanted screw will bear the occurring loads or not, is mainly based on the personal- or clinical experiences. This research project aims to improve the current situation by developing a computer based method which is able to estimate the failure risk of a bone screw prior its implantation. In particular it is hypothesized that the (multi-axial) failure load of an individual bone screw can be predicted by local morphological parameters at its implantation position. This morphological information is based on computer tomography (CT) scans of the fractured bone. In a mid-term perspective, this morphologically-based screw failure criterion could find its way into pre-operative computer planning tools to be used by surgeons for determining the optimal implant position and screw number in advance. Such a clinical tool could lead to more successful surgeries, less costly complications, and higher quality of life for the patient. For developing this screw failure criterion, the idea of bone biopsies studies is followed. A high number of bone samples with screws will be prepared in the laboratory and scanned with a micro-CT system in order measure the local bone morphology. Biomechanical testing in multiple directions will provide data about the mechanical competence of the bone screws including the relevant failure mechanisms. The obtained screws’ failure loads will be related to the samples’ histomorphometric parameters and expressed in a failure surface. With that failure surface, the failure risk of a bone screw can be predicted based on local bone morphology and a loading state prior implantation. In this study standard titanium screws as well as screws made from biodegradable magnesium will be evaluated. This magnesium alloy degrades naturally in the environment of a living body and could make the extraction of implants obsolete. To gain deeper knowledge about that promising material, the failure loads of magnesium screws at multiple degradation states will be compared with standard titanium screws.

  • FAM-3D

    Functional anatomical 3D-models

    • Project Number: K3-F-807/002-2018
    • Project Lead: Nikolaus Dellantoni, ACMIT - Austrian Center for Medical Innovation and Technology
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Biomechanics, Niederoesterreichische Landesgesundheitsagentur (NOE LGA) / X-ray Institute for Diagnostics, Interventional Radiology and Nuclear Medicine
    • Duration: 45 months starting from 01.04.2019
  • Fecal Pollution River Danube

    Investigating the status quo on fecal pollution for the section of the River Danube in Lower Austria

    • Project Number: WA2-A-226/050-2019
    • Project Lead: Alexander Kirschner, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Water Quality and Health
    • Project Partner: Medical University of Vienna / Institute for Hygiene and Applied Immunology, Technische Universität Wien
    • Duration: 30 months starting from 29.03.2019

    Background

    In recent months, various media and the population have repeatedly speculated that the Danube navigation would lead to a significant fecal burden on the Danube. However, there are no current and secured data series on the level of fecal pollution over a representative period. The research concept is based on the spatio-temporal high-resolution analysis of fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) for the Lower Austrian section of the Danube, as well as a first assessment of the FIB emission potentials for the Danube navigation with a comparison to municipal sources. In addition, a basic chemo-physical characterization of the water quality and a genetic analysis to determine the sources of fecal pollution for selected locations will be made. Along the Lower Austrian Danube, 11 selected transects (cross sections) will be characterized during the course of the year. In addition, high-resolution time series at neuralgic Danube sites will be surveyed using automated sampling technology. In order to support an estimation of the emission potential of Danube navigation, also waster water sampled directly from the vessels will be examined. All common types of ships or sewage are considered. The study will be carried out in close cooperation between the State of Lower Austria (Gruppe Wasser) and the Karl Landsteiner Private University for Health Sciences, Department of Water Quality and Health, with the support of the ICC Water & Health as partner.

  • Wearables

    Experience sampling with wearables: An open-source solution

    • Project Number: P 31800-N38
    • Project Lead: Stefan Stieger, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Psychological Methodology
    • Duration: 54 months starting from 01.03.2019

    Background

    We all know diaries. They are used to record, capture, and monitor our everyday experiences in our own words and are habitually kept on a daily basis. But diaries are also used in science in order to systematically assess life experiences, mostly in a structured form (closed questions) referring to a specific topic (e.g., well-being). Participants may not just answer questions at the end of the day, but also at any time during the day (so-called event- and time-based sampling). In the past, these scientific diaries were used in printed form. However, due to technical progress, nowadays diaries are also digital, and come in new forms and shapes such as Personal Digital Assistants (also known as PDAs) and smartphones. An even more recent development offers further potential as a technological platform for diary studies – wearables. Currently, wearables are predominantly used in sports to measure heart rate and blood pressure, as a pedometer, or to determine the exact GPS position. Meanwhile, the potential to use wearables for scientific purposes, e.g., data collection in diary studies seems substantial. Wearables offer various major advantages, such as being unobtrusive (important for the direct measurement of sensitive topics), not disturbing our daily routines (important for very frequent daily measurements), and being capable of running autonomously (i.e., independent from smartphones and Internet connections). This being said, the present project sets out to develop an open-source software for scientific purposes which should be easily adaptable (e.g., through further sensors, buttons) and work autonomously while implementing low power consumption and the option to store data locally altogether based on a freely available development board.

  • Healthy Ageing

    Health barometer: Healthy Ageing in Lower Austria

    • Project Number: -
    • Project Lead: Franz Kolland, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Gerontology
    • Duration: 34 months starting from 01.03.2019
  • Colon-Plug

    Colon-Plug

    • Project Number: 874254
    • Project Lead: Dieter Pahr, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Biomechanics
    • Project Partner: Teaching ordination / Prim. Univ.-Prof. Dr. Georg Bischof
    • Duration: 12 months starting from 01.03.2019
  • Virtual Skills Lab

    Virtual reality as a training environment for strengthening social competences to promote teamwork in companies

    • Project Number: FFG872573
    • Project Lead: Klaus Neundlinger, Institute for Cultural Excellence
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapeutic Medicine (University Hospital Tulln), Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / D.O.T. - Die offene Tür (The Open Door), Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft / Forschungsgruppe DOT, Institute for Advanced Studies, Polycular OG, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology
    • Duration: 34 months starting from 01.03.2019

    Background

    Background:
    Complex social competencies, such as empathy, the ability to reflect or to constructively solve conflicts, are key in a contemporary work environment which is characterized by complex forms of interaction. This is the basis for our motivation to investigate novel forms of learning and training, which include emotional experiences in order to effect a sustainable increase in social competencies and, consequently, improve teamwork. Weaknesses of existing methods for promoting social competencies, such as a sole focus on cognitive stimuli, are specifically addressed through the use of virtual reality (VR).
    Aims:
    In a highly interdisciplinary process, this project examines how social skills (e.g. active listening, empathic change of perspective, etc.) can be trained using VR scenarios. The target group are middle management staff charged with a high number of coordination tasks, whose social skills impact the quality of the working conditions of the entire team they are responsible for. Based on the training approach of the consulting company 4dimensions, which focuses on optimizing team collaboration, a research prototype will be developed for the study.

  • VIBRIO – Quantification and prediction of Vibrio cholerae bacteria in bathing waters

    An innovative strategy for the quantification and prediction of toxigenic and non-toxigenic Vibrio cholerae in environmental water resources

    • Project Number: LSC17-007
    • Project Lead: Alexander Kirschner, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Water Quality and Health
    • Project Partner: Technische Universität Wien / IFA Tulln Working Group Molecular Diagnostics, Lower Austrian Government / Department of Environmental Hygiene, Medical University of Vienna / Institute for Hygiene and Applied Immunology
    • Duration: 48 months starting from 01.01.2019

    Background

    Vibrio cholerae is a natural inhabitant of aquatic ecosystems and the causative agent of the devastating disease cholera. Cholera is caused by toxigenic strains belonging to the serogroups O1 and O139. However nontoxigenic V.cholerae (NTVC) cause several other kinds of infections with potential fatal outcome. In the past 20 years, NTVC infections have been significantly increasing in Europe in association with global warming. In Lower Austria, two extreme cases occurred for the first time in 2015. Both cases were associated with bathing activities during an extreme summer heatwave. To date, the decisive factors controlling NTVC occurrence in inland bathing waters are not clear.
    Such information and the availability of reliable NTVC quantification methods are prerequisite to enable prediction models and early warning systems of NTVC occurrence. Besides cultivation on microbiological media, molecular and cell-based methods have been developed. So far, cell-based detection combining fluorescence labelling (FISH) and solid phase cytometry (SPC) proved most successful for NTVC quantification. However, FISH/SPC does not differentiate V.cholerae from closely related species, and it is extremely labor intensive and expensive. In this project, an approach based on alternative molecular recognition molecules –APTAMERS– are proposed. Aptamers are short oligonucleotides that bind their target with high selectivity and affinity. They have proven equally efficient as antibodies in many applications. Once an aptamer is identified, unlimited amounts can be produced at low costs. To date, however, there are no aptamers available for V.cholerae.
    Two main goals shall be achieved. First, NTVC abundance shall be comprehensively monitored with state-of-the-art methods along environmental and spatiotemporal gradients in representative bathing waters, and second, a new cutting-edge aptamer technology shall be developed for tailored quantification of NTVC and V.cholerae O1/O139. Prediction models of NTVC abundance in bathing waters shall be delivered as tools for risk assessment and easy protocols for culture-independent quantification of V.cholerae. This will significantly contribute to improved disease preparedness and public health concerning NTVC in bathing waters and toxigenic V.cholerae in water resources. The resulting aptamer products, applications and intellectual property may be exploited in follow-up translational projects, in form of spin-off companies or transfer to local third-party enterprises. The proposal is directly contributing to the prioritised research area “Intelligent Indication Systems and Diagnostics” within the recent FTI strategy for Lower Austria. Sustainable collaborations will be stimulated between the project partners within the Interuniversity Cooperation Centre Water & Health, a research centre to pioneer cutting edge water quality research. Thus, the project will contribute in a sustainable manner to the welfare of Lower Austria.

  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa

    Development of an electrochemical sensor for the rapid detection of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in hospitals

    • Project Number: LSC17-015
    • Project Lead: Martin Brandl, Danube University Krems / Center for Integrated Sensor Systems
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Institute of Hygiene and Microbiology (University Hospital St. Pölten)
    • Duration: 47 months starting from 01.01.2019

    Background

    Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a high-risk bacterial pathogen. Therefore, rapid detection and further identification are important targets in medicine, food industry and drinking water hygiene to ensure public health and safety. P. aeruginosa is a widely spread soil and water bacterium and is regarded as a major hospital germ. Infections with P. aeruginosa are a common cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Current methods for detection are often based on classical cultivation, microscopic and biochemical analyzes, and also molecular methods are increasingly used. However, all of these procedures are often time-consuming, expensive, require special equipment and trained personnel. An electrochemical methodology for a Pseudomonas detector is to be developed in the planned NFB project. This biosensor can facilitate the detection of P. aeruginosa as a "pretester" and as an early warning system accelerate the
    overall diagnosis of this bacterial pathogen. In the cultivation of the bacterium on cetrimide agar, the release of pyocyanin, a blue-green secondary metabolite, which is specifically produced by P. aeruginosa, results in colored colonies. However, pyocyanine also has redox-active properties and, therefore, can be used for a specific, electrochemical detection of these bacteria. The electroactive properties of pyocyanine can be determined with different voltametric and amperometric methods, e.g. cyclic voltammetry. This bacterial secondary metabolite serves as a starting point for the development of methods, which is carried out at the Danube University Krems, Center for Integrated Sensor Systems, Working Group "Water and Environmental Sensors". The developed procedure is then to be tested with hospital samples from the Clinic Institute for Hygiene and Microbiology, University Hospital St. Pölten. Finally, the results obtained from the detected infection exciter are to be evaluated by the novel sensor and the validated hospital analysis.

  • Reproducing biological tissues

    Reproducing biological tissues in terms of their mechanical properties by means of 3D printing

    • Project Number: SC17-016
    • Project Lead: Dieter Pahr, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Biomechanics
    • Duration: 34 months starting from 01.12.2018

    Background

    3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM) or rapid prototyping, has become a highly versatile tool with a broad range of applications, such as manufacturing, art, design, and medicine. In the field of biomedical engineering AM has not only gained wide popularity in tissue engineering for printing scaffolds and in biomechanics for patient-specific prostheses, but it has also been proposed as an instrument for fabricating realistic 3D models. For example, individual modelling of patient-specific conditions via AM poses an excellent opportunity for surgeons to practice procedures beforehand. Studies have shown that in doing so operation time is reduced and the physician's confidence is increased, resulting in shorter times of radiation exposure and lower costs. Although 3D modelling approaches for pre-surgical planning have been reported previously, a closer look, concerning the mechanical properties of the printed materials, is still required. Currently, these models lack accurate representation of the tissue biomechanics. This demands a procedure for fine-tuning the mechanical properties of the 3D printed materials to closely match the in vivo conditions. In this project, 3D printing is applied to the task of producing materials that closely imitate biological tissues, and organ-like structures, in terms of their mechanical properties. The printed tissues can be patient-specific for pre-surgical planning, as well as standardized for applications in research dealing with advancing novel operating techniques, implant technology, and other medical devices. One of the incentives is to thereby limit the demand of donor organs and reduce variability of the organs used in research. Due to the fact that the capabilities of 3D printing are currently rapidly increasing, this research can also be seen as the groundwork for even more applications concerning printed organs that might be possible with future technology. The key objectives of this project are:
    the establishment of a testing protocol for acquiring characteristic biomechanical parameters of different tissues, the development of software tools for attaining these parameters in 3D printed structures (based on suitable material combinations and spatial distribution thereof, plus post-processing procedures), the printing of these tissue replicas alongside the validation of their mechanical properties via comparison with the actual tissue characteristics. All instructions for manufacturing these models are to be contained in a so-called “toolbox”.

  • Iron metabolism of the human placenta

    Iron metabolism of the human placenta – the key to understand iron transfer from the mother to the fetus

    • Project Number: LSC17_008
    • Project Lead: Hans Salzer, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Paediatrics (University Hospital Tulln)
    • Project Partner: Medical University of Vienna / Institute of Medical Genetics, Landesklinikum Mistelbach / Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
    • Duration: 39 months starting from 05.11.2018

    Background

    Background:
    Iron is an essential trace element that is required by all cells, but toxic when present in excess. Iron deficiency is the most common form of micronutritional deficiency worldwide. Preterm infants as well as pregnant women are most likely to suffer from it. During pregnancy, the placenta is the major interface of nutritional exchange between mother and developing fetus. Although mammalian iron metabolism is in general very well characterized, surprisingly little is known about iron metabolism and transfer in the human placenta.
    Aims:
    Inspired by the substantial gaps of knowledge on human placental iron metabolism and by our preliminary data on human placenta, we aim to study:
    (1) The iron metabolism and transport in human placentas and appropriate cell models.
    (2) The iron status of healthy mother-child-pairs in relation to placental expression of proteins involved in iron metabolism as well as in relation to placental iron.
    Methods:
    In the proposed study, which is based on overall 105 healthy, non-anemic mother-child-pairs, iron status of pregnant women and neonates in relation to placental expression and localization of iron metabolising and transporting proteins is investigated. In vitro experiments with human placental cells (primary trophoblast cells, Hofbauer cells, primary placental endothelial cells, and the two placental cell lines BeWo and HUVEC) will be conducted to examine and confirm the involvement of TFR1, FPN1, ZIP8 and other (to be selected) candidate proteins in placental iron metabolism and transport.
    Innovation:
    The proposed study is the first, which combines iron status of mother-child-pairs with extensive basic research (protein expression, function, and localization) on human placentas. The key proteins involved in human placental iron metabolism and transport will be examined for the first time together. The study is based on a comparably large number of mother-child-pairs. With the proposed study we aim to add new knowledge on human placental iron metabolism and transfer. We expect long-term benefits arising from this innovative approach, which will enable us in the long run to optimize the therapy of maternal and preterm iron deficiency.

  • Digitisation as a chance for restoration and visualisation

    Digitisation as a chance for restoration and visualisation – A pilot study on the 30,000 year old double burial of newborns from Krems-Wachtberg

    • Project Number: FTI17-010
    • Project Lead: Dieter Pahr, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Biomechanics
    • Project Partner: Museum of Natural History Vienna / Department of Anthropology, Danube University Krems / Collection Studies and Management, Austrian Academy of Science / Institute for Oriental and European Archaeology
    • Duration: 40 months starting from 01.11.2018

    Background

    The discovery of the more than 30,000 years old ritual double burial of two neonates at the Krems-Wachtberg site in 2005 has evoked much attention not only by the media and the general public, but also from the international scientific community as findings of sub adults of ancient humans are, on a global scale, extremely rare occasions. After the discovery and exposure the ritual burial was carefully recovered as a block, and the fragile specimens were stored to keep its original excellent condition. In 2015 the recovered block was excavated, documenting each single step with state-of-the art methods.
    Digitisation is now aimed for to enable analyses, restoration and also visualisation. Currently, the only non-destructive way to make a digital copy and visualize the remains is high-resolution micro-computed tomography imaging. It allows 3D reconstruction of the surface as well as the inner micro-structure - making it possible to “uncover the invisible”. Such a device has been installed at the division for Biomechanics of KL University as part of the Core Facility at Campus Krems. This will overcome the current restrictions of analysis and allows a digitisation of the findings for future analysis.
    Together with the available light scanning data from the excavation the whole assembly can be reconstructed. Apart from 3-dimensional reconstruction it will be possible to restorate the chaîne operatoire of activities which were part of this burial process, as well as the post-sedimentary formation processes (4D = modelling the development through time).
    In addition to the reconstruction of the burial, up-to-date documentation and archiving of the data is of utmost importance to lay a basis for further research. Thus, one of the main objectives of this pilot project is to set up a catalogue of criteria for a long term, open-source data repository which provides access to all the data regarding the excavation and findings for larger groups of scientists beyond disciplinary borders.
    Digitisation of the Krems-Wachtberg double burial is challenging in all respects and requires a variety of experts to deal with the many aspects that are inherent in such a spectacular discovery. For the first time, it is possible to investigate this outstanding find from Krems-Wachtberg under the leadership of Lower Austrian research institutions. As one of its main targets, the proposed project will contribute to a further professionalization in Collection Management and Museology – one of the areas of Lower Austrian FTI strategy – and it will significantly improve the visibility of cultural heritage in Lower Austria by latest technical developments that allow for scientific exploitation on an international level.

  • Knee Osteoarthritis

    Motor Learning in Knee Osteoarthritis Therapy - A New Rehabilitation Approach

    • Project Number: LSC17_014
    • Project Lead: Barbara Wondrasch, FH St. Pölten / Institute of Health Sciences
    • Project Partner: Orthopaedic Hospital Vienna-Speising, Danube University Krems / Faculty of Health and Medicine, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Trauma Surgery (University Hospital St. Pölten)
    • Duration: 36 months starting from 01.11.2018

    Background

    Background
    Osteoarthrosis (OA) is a disease of the joint originating from the articular cartilage, the joint capsule and the subchondral bone and is the most common joint disease worldwide. The knee joint is most commonly affected and in addition to the individual impairments due to pain, reduced joint function and restrictions in daily life as well as in sports activities, OA also leads to very high socio-economic burdens (pain medication, operations and rehabilitation stays, sick leave, early retirement). The literature shows that the conservative therapy, and especially the physiotherapy, wins increasingly significance, as it leads to a short-term reduction of symptoms and improvement of the symptoms. The focus of physiotherapy includes on the one hand passive measures for improvement of cartilage metabolism, on the other hand, a neuromuscular training to improve the joint function.
    In addition to the local changes in the joint structures in the knee joint, however, there are also changes in the central nervous system leading to altered movement behavior, which in turn increases the intra-articular load. Until now physiotherapy does not take have these central changes into account, maybe a reason for the unsatisfactory long-term results of the knee joint function.
    Objective and content:
    The local structural and central neuronal changes of VKB (anterior cruciate ligament insufficiency) patients and knee osteoarthritis patients are very similar; therefore, the aim of this project is to examine the influence of special feedback forms on the knee joint functions in patients with knee arthrosis.
    Method:
    A randomized clinical trial will be conducted with two groups of patients. The control group receives a standard physiotherapy program, while the intervention group with special physiotherapy program receives feedback techniques. The program is performed in the form of booster sessions, i.e. units over 3 months. For the evaluation, outcome parameters are used which are in line with the requirements of the international classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF).

  • JunB in multiple myeloma

    Pathophysiological role of JunB in multiple myeloma

    • Project Number: WST3-F-5031298/002-2018
    • Project Lead: Klaus Podar, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Molecular Oncology / Hematology, Klaus Podar, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Internal Medicine 2 (University Hospital Krems)
    • Project Partner: The Antibody Lab GmbH, IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna / Institute for Pharmacology and Toxicology
    • Duration: 39 months starting from 01.10.2018

    Background

    Dieses Projekt wird aus Mitteln des Europäischen Fonds für regionale Entwicklung (EFRE) kofinanziert. Nähere Informationen zu IWB/EFRE finden Sie auf www.efre.gv.at
    Microenvironment-induced signaling pathways regulate the activity of numerous transcription factors (TFs). Approaches to target TFs are among the most promising novel anticancer strategies with a potentially high therapeutic index. Our recent data indicated a key role for the AP-1 family member JunB in MM pathogenesis (Fan et al., Leukemia 2017). In continuation of these findings, the proposed project aims to further define JunB as a novel therapeutic target in MM, and to thereby set the pace for the development of direct or indirect JunB inhibitors in order to further improve patient outcome.

  • HIPStar

    Obesity-specific joint center estimation in gait analysis

    • Project Number: P 30923-B30
    • Project Lead: Brian Horsak, FH St. Pölten / Institute of Health Sciences
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Biomechanics, Medical University of Vienna / Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Orthopaedic Hospital Vienna-Speising
    • Duration: 36 months starting from 01.10.2018

    Background

    Gait analysis aims at gathering quantitative information about the mechanics of the musculo-skeletal system during locomotion. Typically, in gait analysis, variables such as kinematics, joint moments, and powers are determined. This information is used to evaluate pathological gait patterns. Errors in locating the three-dimensional (3D) position of the hip joint center (HJC) can strongly affect the calculation of 3D gait analysis variables. This consequentially leads to incorrect interpretations. The problem of inaccuracy in HJC location increases significantly in patients where bony landmarks are difficult to identify, such as in overweight or obese populations. Nevertheless, gait analysis remains as the state of the art method for clinicians and for researchers. Often medical imaging-based methods are recommended to identify the 3D HJC localization. However, some of those methods expose patients to radiation or are expensive and time-consuming. Therefore, non-invasive predictive methods, based on experimental data, or functional models were introduced in recent years to estimate the position of the HJC. Researcher has attempted to evaluate which of these methods best determine the HJC most accurately in various populations. Among those, only a few studies recruited children or clinically diagnosed patients. Surprisingly, there is no study, which recruited overweight or obese children and adolescents. However, all currently non-invasive available methods are strongly affected by the amount of subcutaneous fat present (wobbling mass), which can introduce great inaccuracies. Therefore, a study to identify how well existing HJC estimation methods work for this very specific population is strongly recommended. In addition, new methods such as 3D free-hand ultrasound techniques (3DUS) may bear great potential for accurate and non-invasive estimation techniques. These methods, are still experimental and have not yet been tested in overweight populations.
    The primary aim of this study is to evaluate the accuracy of current non-invasive HJC estimation methods for clinical 3D gait analysis to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in a population of overweight or obese children and adolescents. Based on the results obtained in this study, we will (i) provide recommendations, for which methods serve best to estimate the HJC position; (ii) develop soft tissue compensation algorithms and strategies that allow for a more accurate estimation of the HJC; (iii) in addition, we will evaluate the use of 3DUS as a promising alternative in HJC estimation.

  • AQUASCREEN – Biostability of water

    Development of a pioneering water investigation procedure for the drinking water supply of tomorrow

    • Project Number: WST3-F-5031298/001-2017/K3-W-47/007-2017
    • Project Lead: Andreas Farnleitner, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Water Quality and Health
    • Project Partner: EVN Wasser GmbH, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna / Institute of Bioanalytics and Agro-Metabolomics
    • Duration: 32 months starting from 01.09.2018

    Background

    The biostability of water, i.e. the ability to store and distribute water without negative microbiological quality changes, is a crucial aspect in public water supply. Biostability is important for the esthetical characteristics of water (e.g. good taste and appearance) and it is essential to protect public health (i.e. conditions to not support the growth of facultative pathogens, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa). The methods for the determination of biostability of water still suffer from major technical shortcomings and require significant future improvements.
    Due to a permanent increase of ground water temperature, caused by the global change (on average 0.05C° per year), growth of facultative pathogens is likely increasing in drinking water. The improved possibility to analyze and predict the growth potential of facultative pathogens in ground- and drinking water is thus becoming more important.
    This research project aims to develop and evaluate a new innovative approach to determine the biostability of ground- and drinking water by using up-to-date high-throughput DNA sequencing technology to screen and predict for bacterial population changes. To enable the tracking of biochemical key-processes in water supply, the possibility to combine the “basic module” with high-resolution chemical analysis will be determined as well. The main focus of AQUASCREEN is directed towards drinking water recourses which have significance in Lower Austria (i.e. well water, spring water, ground water).
    Milestone 1: Established experimental approach for the determination of the bacterial growth potential in ground- and drinking water based on flow cytometry and high-throughput DNA sequencing (“basic module”).
    Milestone 2: Analysis and evaluation of the new possibilities based on a case study with relevance for drinking water supply and comparison of results with traditional approaches.
    Milestone 3: Identified development needs to combine the “basic module” with high-resolution chemical analysis (advanced module “biogeochemistry”) and to detect and differentiate the growth potential of facultative pathogens, as detected by culture-based methods (advanced module “facultative pathogens”).
    The aim of this research proposal is to overcome the methodical limitations of the past and to successfully establish a new strategy supporting the reproducible and straightforward determination of biostability and its prediction in ground- and drinking water. Results of this research will support the development of new practical determination systems (prototypes).

  • REEgain – Biological recycling of environmentally hazardous substances

    Sustainable biological recycling of environmentally hazardous substances (Rare Earth Elements) from electronic waste and wastewater

    • Project Number: Interreg ATCZ172
    • Project Lead: Dominik Schild, IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems / Department of Life Sciences
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Water Quality and Health, Mikrobiologický ústav AVČR, Zentrum ALGATECH, Danube University Krems / Center for Biomedical Technology, Saubermacher Dienstleistungs AG, Stark GmbH, Městská Vodohospodářská s.r.o.
    • Duration: 48 months starting from 01.07.2018

    Background

    Rare earths are used in electronic devices such as mobile phones, computers and energy-saving bulbs. However, they are scarce and cannot be recycled using eco-friendly methods. Complex and expensive mining, coupled with scarce supply, means that the prices of rare earths on the world market are rising steadily. Due to continuous technical advances, we can already predict that the supply situation for rare earths will become critical in future, which in turn could pose a threat to the development of innovative technologies.

    The project partners aim to counter this trend using a new technology. This involves an approach that has never been used before: recycling by means of microorganisms (bacteria and algae). The goal of the international project partner consortium is to develop a practicable recycling technology in collaboration with regional industry, with a view to reclaiming rare earths from electronic waste and subsequently making the technology available to businesses. The consortium liaises regularly with its strategic partners, which guarantees that market needs and the technological limitations of business are taken into account in the development process.

  • BEST MgAlloy

    Biocompatible elements - simulations and tests for Mg alloys

    • Project Number: KF3-F-639/004-2017
    • Project Lead: Jelena Horky, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology / Center for Health & Bioresources
    • Project Partner: Aerospace & Advanced Composites GmbH, FH Wiener Neustadt, AC2T research GmbH, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Biomechanics
    • Duration: 42 months starting from 01.04.2018

    Background

    Biodegradable magnesium-based implants are increasingly coming into focus for temporary use in medical applications, such as plates, nails, pins or screws for osteosynthesis of broken bones. The great advantage of this is the elimination of a second operation for explanting any permanent metallic fixations.

  • Follow-up psychiatric patients

    Graded psychiatric care for patients with special care needs

    • Project Lead: Friedrich Riffer, Psychosomatic Center Waldviertel - Eggenburg Clinic
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapeutic Medicine (University Hospital Tulln), Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Clinical Psychology, Psychosomatic Center Waldviertel - Eggenburg Clinic
    • Duration: 48 months starting from 01.04.2018

    Background

    Patients being treated frequently and in different care facilities, also due to repeated treatment discontinuations, burden the care structures. The causes of the repeated treatment discontinuations and consequently readmissions, as well as the lack of reintegration are not restrictive known. It is therefore of great importance to investigate which factors are associated with potential readmissions and play a role in social reintegration. This project examines the benefits of patients with special aftercare needs. The goal is to optimize the graded care and reduce the readmissions. Basic knowledge will be gained on the benefit of patients with special care needs, who will contribute to the dismissal of the care system.
    Questions:
    1. Are there subgroups of patients with or without fundamental social and cognitive impairment among psychiatric patients with addiction (F1) or personality disorders (F6)?
    2. Is there a difference among the subgroups of psychiatric patients with or without cognitive thinking disorders regarding (re)admission r and cumulative length of stay, and social and professional reintegration

  • Sepsis GEMMA

    Characterization of Blood Cell Derived Extracellular Vesicles with Nano Electrospray Gas-Phase Electrophoretic Mobility Molecular Analysis (nES-GEMMA)

    • Project Number: LSC16-018
    • Project Lead: Carla Tripisciano, Danube University Krems
    • Project Partner: Technische Universität Wien / Institute of Chemical Technologies and Analytics, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care (University Hospital St. Pölten), Danube University Krems / Department for Health Sciences and Biomedicine, Technische Universität Wien / Institute of Chemical Technologies and Analytics
    • Duration: 39 months starting from 01.03.2018

    Background

    Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are released by cells upon activation or stress and are present in all body fluids. They have recently emerged as versatile mediators of intercellular communication and as potentially rich reservoirs of clinical biomarkers. They are involved in a multiplicity of physiological processes, such as the regulation of the vascular function, and there is ample evidence for their roles in various pathological settings, such as cancer, inflammation and thrombosis. Channeling the properties of EVs towards therapeutic application and patient care is dependent on technological progress in analytical approaches. The complexity of biological fluids along with the heterogeneity of EVs challenges their isolation and characterization. The most commonly applied separation protocols, such as ultracentrifugation and density gradient centrifugation, are hampered by uncontrolled loss of vesicles and co-isolation of contaminants, such as cellular debris, protein aggregates, lipoproteins, or nucleic acids. Flow cytometry has found widespread application for the characterization of EVs, but EVs smaller than 200 nm, representing a high percentage of all vesicles present in blood, are not detectable with this approach. Other methods, such as nanoparticle tracking analysis are capable of detecting vesicles down to a size of 10 nm, but are not able to differentiate them from non-vesicular material, such as protein aggregates. Here, we will investigate the application of Nano Electrospray Gas-phase Electrophoretic Mobility Molecular Analysis (nES-GEMMA) for the characterization of extracellular vesicles, in particular exosomes, from complex biological matrices, such as human blood or plasma. We aim to set up standardized protocols for the isolation of highly pure EV fractions and their characterization with nES-GEMMA. We will apply nES GEMMA to quantify exosomes, which is superior to indirect quantification based on protein concentration as used to date, and we will assess for the first time whether protein and lipid content are qualitatively influenced by the size of extracellular vesicles by collecting size separated vesicles via an electrostatic nanometer aerosol sampler. Finally, we will monitor eventual modifications in the composition of vesicles obtained from physiological and different pathological settings. As a first application in clinical samples, nES-GEMMA will be used in combination with conventional flow cytometry and nanoparticle tracking analysis to quantify and characterize extracellular vesicles from the plasma of healthy donors and sepsis patients.

  • Age almanac 2018

    Getting old in Lower Austria

    • Project Number: GS5-A-188/080-2018
    • Project Lead: Franz Kolland, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Gerontology
    • Duration: 16 months starting from 01.02.2018
  • COMBIS

    Combinatory Bioactivity Screening

    • Project Number: LSC16-005
    • Project Lead: Martin Wagner, FFoQSI
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Institute of Hygiene and Microbiology (University Hospital St. Pölten), University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna / Institute for Applied Genetics and Cell Biology, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna / Institute for Milk Hygiene
    • Duration: 44 months starting from 01.01.2018

    Background

    For decades virtually every easily cultivable microorganism has been investigated in pharmaceutical highthrough put screens (HTP) for natural bioactive compound production and after observation of a constantly increasing rediscovery rate of bioactive compounds the source was declared empty. As a consequence; large scale screening programs for natural bioactive compounds were mostly terminated. However, in recent years, the interest in natural bioactive compounds has been reignited based on mass sequencing results of microbial genomes predicting a much richer diversity of microbial metabolites than previously anticipated. These so called “cryptic” metabolites hold the potential for novel antibiotics, directly needed for the armsrace against the ever increasing incidence of pathogenic resistance. A promising approach to activate the production of “cryptic” metabolites is co-cultivation of competing microorganisms. For example fungi and bacteria are talented producers of natural compounds with potentially strong bioactive functions. In a previous work we could demonstrate that small chemical effectors induce or increase the production of otherwise repressed compounds in fungi which raises the chance of discovery of novel compounds. In addition it has been demonstrated that biotrophic conditions influence the production of bioactive compounds in fungi. Thus as innovative screening attempt we propose a high throughput assay combining small chemical effector treatment with combinatorial growth of fungi and bacteria under various biotrophic conditions. We will realize an automated HTP pipeline to co-cultivate 144 selected bacterial strains with 32 different fungi using 4 small chemical effectors under 4 biotrophic conditions. The 73728 so produced culture extracts will be screened for their ability to counteract microbial resistance in a direct approach for the presence of novel antibiotic compounds not susceptible to commonly found microbial resistances from human and veterinary sources in Lower Austria. Furthermore, in an indirect screening approach we will generate reporter strains primed for the presence of erm or cfr methylase mediated antibiotic resistance inhibitors. These resistance mechanisms are based on methylation of 16S rRNA which mediates resistance against several antibiotics at the same time and so far no in vivo active inhibitor has been discovered. The proposed project will deliver a co-cultivation HTP pipeline and a highly divers set of HTP assays for target driven screening attempts and has the potential to discover novel bioactive compounds.

  • Medi3D Print

    3D print of biological materials

    • Project Lead: Gernot Kronreif, ACMIT - Austrian Center for Medical Innovation and Technology
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Biomechanics
    • Duration: 39 months starting from 01.01.2018

    Background

    3D printing is entering medicine and can help in many ways. In addition to accurately fitting implants and orthoses, 3D printing can be used in surgical preparation to gain a better understanding of the planned surgery. Increasingly, the printing of organs is becoming more important. In this research project materials are to be printed with the help of the Polyjet process which come as close as possible to real biological tissues from the haptic but also with regard to the biomechanical behavior. The printing technology developed in this way enables the production of patient-specific organ models based on CT and MRI data, which can be used for preoperative planning prior to complicated procedures. Furthermore, for the further development of surgical techniques and implants mechanically equivalent organs or specimens can be produced, which make dispensing with the use of body donations for these concerns. The printed organs are standardizable and have no undesirable variability, as is the case with body donation.

  • D.O.T.

    Die Offene Tür - Mental Health Project

    • Project Number: LBG 01
    • Project Lead: Beate Schrank, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapeutic Medicine (University Hospital Tulln), Beate Schrank, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / D.O.T. - Die offene Tür (The Open Door)
    • Project Partner: Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft
    • Duration: 54 months starting from 01.01.2018

    Background

    Social connectedness in adolescents is an important protective factor for health. Adolescent children of parents with mental illness (COPMI) are at risk of poor social connectedness, especially in periods of school transition. In COPMI and non-COPMI early adolescents, we seek to (i) understand mechanisms of social connectedness, (ii) improve social connectedness by enhancing social-emotional skills and appropriate peer connections through a digital hub, (iii) tailor the hub to maximise individuals’ gains, (iv) facilitate related positive outcomes, such as reductions in stigma via opportunity for positive COPMI-non-COPMI contact. Profound literature reviews and ongoing stakeholder and expert consultation will guide the design of a blended intervention comprising the online hub housing digital experiences and peer matching, and complementary school/service-based social wellbeing programmes. A pilot evaluation will test the intervention acceptability, feasibility and processes of changes; and explore the efficacy of the hub in two versions, i.e. standard and an individually adaptive mode.

  • Endobone

    Developmental tissue engineering model of endochondral ossification for bone regeneration

    • Project Number: LSC16_024
    • Project Lead: Stefan Nehrer, Danube University Krems / Department of Regenerative Medicine
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Biomechanics
    • Duration: 48 months starting from 01.01.2018

    Background

    Bone engraftment techniques to treat large bone defects involve implantation of allogenic bone grafts as a replacement tissue but are constrained on poor integration and functional anastomosis for ingrowth of vasculature from the host tissue. In proportionate many unresolved factors are to be addressed in advancing the clinical outcome for treating fracture non-unions, osteonecrosis, osteoporosis. Tissue engineering strategies hold promise in promoting bone regeneration. Nevertheless, the common approach in bone tissue engineering is by stimulating the osteogenesis route for regenerating bone which still remains an ineffective approach. Mimicking the natural process of bone formation through a developmental mechanism for formation of long bones called endochondral ossification has been envisioned from the commencement of research in the field of bone tissue engineering. In the current proposal, we propose a strategy for bone regeneration with naturally derived biomaterials incorporating extracellular matrix derived from cartilage (CD-ECM) as a template. We hypothesize that bone regeneration through a cartilaginous intermediate template onto solid biomaterials will produce a neotissue that mimics the native bone in its structure and functionality. To test this hypothesis we will compare bone regeneration from the proposed model to the gold-standard bone allografts used in clinics. CD-ECM incorporated biomaterials embedding hypertrophic chondrocytes are evaluated for their mineralized matrix formation in vitro with biochemical analysis and histological evaluation. Further, by non-destructive analysis micro-computed tomography (µCT) monitoring generated 3D segmented images and biomechanical testing of the scaffolds are evaluated together with computational finite element modelling simulations to determine the stiffness, strength of the engineered bone. The CD-ECM incorporated biomaterials are then implanted with or without hypertrophic chondrocytes ectopically in a mouse model for de novo mineralized matrix formation. The bone formation is further assessed by biochemical, µCT, biomechanical, computational modelling. This interdisciplinary approach would aid in a developmental engineering process instructing bioresponsive scaffolds to recapitulate native bone repair mechanisms.

  • Candida

    Exploitation of Candida-Lactobacillus interactions as potential probiotic targets

    • Project Number: LSC16_016
    • Project Lead: Christoph Schüller, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna / Institute for Applied Genetics and Cell Biology
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Institute of Hygiene and Microbiology (University Hospital St. Pölten)
    • Duration: 45 months starting from 01.11.2017

    Background

    Candida cells are common human commensals found on the skin and genitourinary tract. They cause mucosal infections which may progress to systemic candidosis. Of all cases of vulvo-vaginal candidosis (VVC) C. albicans and C. glabrata species occur in 90% and 8%, respectively. In the vaginal tract Candida cells compete with the commensal bacterial microflora. In healthy individuals bacteria and fungi co-exist in equilibrium. Treatment with antifungals aims at restoring the microbial balance. Here we propose to address current VVC treatment along three lines 1) to investigate the interactions that occur between Candida spp. and three abundant Lactobacillus species found in the vaginal tract to support the establishment of equilibrium; 2) to analyse local (eastern Austrian) candida strains for their genetic traits; and 3) to evaluate the efficacy of common probiotics and 4) find novel substances able to fight fungi and promote bacteria. The consortium combines clinical resources, molecular biology of Candida, cell culture, and robotic screening. Lactobacillus spp. restrict the progress of Candida in the vaginal tract by producing lactic and acetic acid and also by influencing in an undefined manner the nutrient availability, adherence to vaginal epithelium, biofilm formation, quorum sensing and stress resistance. The environmental and genetic factors triggering microbial imbalance in the vaginal tract constitute a complex host-microbe interaction system. We will address the Candida-Lactobacillus interaction in vitro in combinatorial co-culture on reconstituted human epithelium model system. We will especially focus on C. glabrata since it is harder to treat and much less explored compared to C. albicans. We will attempt to identify C. glabrata genetics and physiological responses involved in colonization of the vaginal tract. The physiological aspect covers the Candida-Lactobacillus interference on gene expression, adherence and biofilm formation properties. Genetic analysis will exploit and characterize lower Austria region clinical C. glabrata isolates. Furthermore, compounds will be screened in high throughput for their ability to foster the presence of different Lactobacillus strains and suppress the growth of Candida. We expect the identified novel targets to be useful for antifungal strategies against Candida to favour benign commensal populations. A considerable industry is selling probiotics for this purpose however with only partly documented efficacy. The projected work will seek novel alternative compounds to improve treatments in the future.

  • Novel biomechanical test setup

    Development of a novel biomechanical test setup together with bone strength simulation models to improve the diagnoses and treatment of osteoporosis

    • Project Number: SC16_009
    • Project Lead: Dieter Pahr, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Biomechanics
    • Duration: 37 months starting from 01.10.2017

    Background

    Osteoporosis (OP) is a silent bone disease resulting in loss of bone density, decreased bone strength and ultimately fracture. It is underrated, underdiagnosed and undertreated. Every third women and every fifth men over 50 are concerned. OP is responsible for more than 4 million fractures annually in the EU, with hip fracture as the most common type. This translates into more than €40 billions of health care costs, out of which less than 5% is spent on prevention. Beside diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer it’s one of the important health care challenges in the next decades. Especially in Lower Austria this puts an estimated €200 million of annual burden on the healthcare system only. The early diagnostics of OP is vital for fracture prevention. This in return increases the life quality of the patient, and decreases the healthcare and social costs. Bone density is used as predictor of osteoporotic fracture risk. It is measured with DEXA and diagnosed with a derived T-score. However, recent studies showed the inaccuracy and insufficiency of such densitometry measures. For example, more than 50% of OP fractures occur in the patients who are considered as “low risk” by this method, and 15% of patients are falsely treated for being at "high risk". An improvement of this situation needs (a) better screening techniques, (b) more screening, and (c) improved diagnosis scores. The goal of this project is to improve osteoporosis diagnostic tools. Bone fracture happens because of overloading and/or reduced resistance against loading due to bone loss. Finite element analysis (FEA) simulation is a non-invasive numerical method which is able to estimate individual bone strength in-vivo based on DEXA or Quantitative Computed Tomography (QCT) images. Geometrical, structural, and material properties are computed from images and combined with typical physiological loading conditions including the magnitude, direction, and frequency of the loading. The accuracy of the model is inherited from a good knowledge of all these parameters. FEA -based bone strength has the potential to effectively improve diagnosis, assessment, and monitoring of osteoporosis. But despite the significant progress made in the last decade, these predictions still need considerable improvements through enhancements in imaging, mechanical testing, and simulation techniques to justify their clinical use.

  • Personalized Diagnostics

    Advanced personalized diagnostics to overcome severe side effects of protein therapeutics

    • Project Number: LSC16_008
    • Project Lead: Peter Allacher, IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems / Applied Bioanalytics & Drug Development
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Paediatrics (University Hospital St. Pölten)
    • Duration: 36 months starting from 01.09.2017

    Background

    Therapeutic protein drugs have been widely used to treat a variety of diseases including cancer, autoimmune diseases, neurological diseases, metabolic diseases, bleeding disorders and others. The global protein drug market reached nearly $174.7 billion in 2015 and should reach nearly $248.7 billion by 2020. Although most protein drugs offer a favourable benefit-risk ratio, one key hurdle for the maintenance of clinical efficacy and safety has been the development of unwanted immune responses against protein drugs, in particular the development of anti-drug antibodies. Some patients develop pathogenic antibodies which neutralize the biologic activity of the protein drug or cause devastating health problems such as anaphylaxis or autoimmune pathologies. Currently, there is no diagnostic tool which can predict and distinguish the development of harmless or pathogenic antibodies in an individual patient. Therefore, basic research efforts are required to better understand immune regulation and nature of harmless and pathogenic anti-drug antibodies and to create the scientific basis for the development of novel diagnostics. Early diagnosis of evolving pathogenic antibodies would provide a window of opportunity for early immune intervention which could prevent pathogenic immune responses. One prominent example of pathogenic anti-drug antibodies is the development of neutralizing antibodies against factor VIII (FVIII) following replacement therapy of hemophilia A patients with human FVIII products. The antibodies neutralize the biological activity of FVIII and render replacement therapies ineffective which can result in life-threatening bleeding complications. In this project application, we propose to close a major gap in current understanding of the nature and evolution of pathogenic antibodies against FVIII and their differentiation from non-pathogenic antibodies in patients with severe hemophilia A. We aim to generate novel data on the temporal association between epitope specificity (protein epitopes versus carbohydrate epitopes), affinity, isotype/IgG subclass profiles and functional activities of antibodies against FVIII which develop in patients following replacement therapy with FVIII products. The possibility to combine basic research with the analysis of longitudinal samples obtained from patients undergoing FVIII therapy will provide a unique opportunity to directly translate novel research findings into clinical application. The data coming out of this project will provide the scientific basis for the development of novel diagnostic tools, such as FVIII-specific microarrays, which will allow physicians to differentiate patient-specific characteristics and design personalized treatment approaches, and ultimately improve patient outcomes.

  • Irreducibility

    Irreducibility of the Subjective Experience

    • Project Number: SC16_025
    • Project Lead: Patrizia Giampieri-Deutsch, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Psychodynamics
    • Duration: 36 months starting from 01.09.2017

    Background

    The dissertation project clarifies ontological questions in light of the mind-body problem providing a solid conceptual and philosophical framework that integrates a broad spectrum of different research results. Of key interest is the scientific understanding of the phenomenon of mental processes, which is difficult to explain within the causal structure of the physical world. Subsequently, it will be examined how mental processes realize their reference to other subjects, to intramental processes and to non-mental givens and processes. The focus is on the fundamentals of perception and the question of what makes an experience an experience in the first place, with special consideration of its qualitative and phenomenal aspects. The exploration of subjective experience, especially with regard to the therapeutic relationship, is thus placed on a sound foundation and opens up the possibility of new insights into basic research in medicine, the health sciences and the humanities.

  • WeRELaTE

    Advancing effective institutional models towards cohesive teaching, learning, research and writing development.

    • Project Number: COST15221
    • Project Lead: Alison Farrell, Maynooth University
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Research Management
    • Duration: 44 months starting from 01.09.2017

    Background

    This Action addresses the challenge of creating synergy among increasingly more specialised and centralised supports for four key higher education activities - research, writing, teaching and learning - which frequently fail to capitalise on their shared territories and common ground. In many institutions, central support for these four areas continues to grow, repeatedly in a reactive rather than strategic manner, in the form of sometimes overlapping programmes or activities, centres, institutes and other units. This responsive growth, often influenced by external forces, can result in the goals, structures and services of these central supports being less than optimal. Equally, what contributes to success, productivity and quality of outcomes, across research, writing, teaching and learning, can remain tacit, ill defined or indeed invisible. Our Action addresses the dearth of professional conversations and research around the shared territory of support for, and development of, these four areas. Such dialogue and research, across units and institutions, will illuminate intersections and contribute to institutional transformation based on complementary, coherent and integrated provision.

  • Maimonides Lectures

    Psychological and Psychodynamic Aspects of Religious Experience in the Framework of the Abrahamic Religions

    • Project Number: K3-F-730/001-2017
    • Project Lead: Patrizia Giampieri-Deutsch, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Psychodynamics
    • Duration: 60 months starting from 01.09.2017
  • AQUASAFE – Water quality monitoring of the future

    Water Quality Monitoring of the Future - Genetic Fecal Markers for the Detection and Determination of Source of Fecal Traces

    • Project Number: SC15-016
    • Project Lead: Andreas Farnleitner, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Water Quality and Health
    • Project Partner: University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna / Institute of Bioanalytics and Agro-Metabolomics, Technische Universität Wien / Institute of Chemical, Environmental and Bioscience Engineering, EVN Wasser GmbH
    • Duration: 41 months starting from 01.09.2017

    Background

    Molecular faecal pollution diagnostics, based on the detection of genetic faecal microbial source tracking (MST) markers, is about to revolutionise water quality testing. Such applications have been mainly focusing within the fields of recreational water quality monitoring, shellfish production, and maximum daily load monitoring. Scientific knowledge on the application of genetic faecal MST marker diagnostics, to support drinking water supply management and water safety planning, is hardly available yet. The proposed translational research project is going to establish the basic scientific knowledge needed to apply and further develop cutting edge genetic faecal marker diagnostics for quality testing to support water safety plans of drinking water supplies of tomorrow. Genetic faecal MST markers are supposed to extend current monitoring practices based on standard faecal indicator bacteria (SFIB) E. coli and enterococci in order to identify potential contamination sources for elimination or minimisation, and, to bridge the gap between traditional faecal pollution monitoring and microbial risk assessment. However, molecular diagnostics with adequate faecal-source specificity and faecal –source sensitivity is considered a key prerequisite for these applications. A new tiered application strategy for drinking water resources monitoring, based on the combination of bacterial and mitochondrial genetic faecal MST markers, is proposed. The new strategy will systematically be evaluated by means of relevant faecal pollution sources,
    representative water resources in Lower Austria, and important disinfection processes. To enable comparisons to traditional methods investigations will be complemented by SFIB and total cell count analysis. Chemical markers will be evaluated to support genetic MST diagnostics. The topic “Intelligent Indication Systems and Diagnostics” has been defined as prioritised research area within the recent FTI strategy (Programme for Research, Technology & Innovation for Lower Austria). The submitted research proposal is thus directly contributing to the adopted FTI strategy. The translational research project will stimulate sustainable collaborations between the Karl Landsteiner University, the well-established Center for Analytic Chemistry at IFA Tulln and the Interuniversity Cooperation Centre for Water and Health, a research centre to pioneer cutting edge water quality research. Furthermore, the project will directly collaborate with EVN Wasser GesmbH, the leading Lower Austrian drinking water supplier. The project will thus directly establish links between cutting edge water research and activities of a leading drinking water supplier to support the realization of water safety management of the future. Joint collaboration between these excellent partners in research and management will contribute to a further establishment of Lower Austria as a leading region in the water sector within the Danube and Central European Region.

  • MFSD1 Transporter

    Investigating the role of the novel major superfamily facilitator transporter family member MFSD1 in metastasis

    • Project Number: LSC16_021
    • Project Lead: Daria Siekhaus, IST Austria
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Internal Medicine 1 (University Hospital St. Pölten)
    • Duration: 36 months starting from 01.08.2017

    Background

    Metastatic spread causes 90% of all tumor related fatalities and thus represents the greatest challenge for cancer patient survival. Tumor cells need to become motile and cross vascular barriers for metastatic spread. How these processes are controlled is not yet fully understood. The laboratory of Dr. Daria Siekhaus has identified a novel transporter, CG8602, required for Drosophila macrophages to invasively migrate into the tissues of the embryonic germband. Data from the Siekhaus lab point towards a role for CG8602 in regulating the glycosylation and stability of proteins that limit tissue entry. CG8602 appears necessary for the increased level of T antigen present on the surface of macrophages invading the tissue of the germband. Intriguingly, increased levels of T antigen have been found in metastatic cancer and antibodies against T antigen can reduce metastasis. This raised our interest in translating our findings into vertebrates, and Dr. Siekhaus recruited a post-doctoral fellow, Dr. Marko Roblek, with extensive experience in studying metastasis in mice back to Austria from Switzerland. This fellowship will help pay for his salary and material costs and thus enable him to conduct the work that will form the foundation for establishing his own independent lab. The mammalian ortholog of the CG8602 transporter, called MFSD1, is highly conserved, and belongs to the solute carrier superfamily (SLC). Yet its functions remain unknown due to a lack of prior studies. We seek to examine the role of MFSD1 in tumor cells during mouse metastatic initiation, We also will examine whether and how MFSD1 is involved in regulating protein glycosylation, protein stability, and how these potential changes affect the regulation of invasive tumor migration. By analyzing the function of MFSD1 and its interaction partners we aim to uncover the mechanism from aberrant glycosylation to the invasive migration phenotype observed during metastatic spread of tumors. This will include analysis of cell surface proteins, signaling cascades, and transcriptional regulation of cell migration. To test the relevance of these findings for the clinic, we are partnering with Dr. Wiesholzer and Dr. Kitzwoegerer at the Clinical Division for Internal Medicine, KLU University St Poelten. By analyzing resected tumor tissue from patients we will determine whether the level or localization of MFSD1 can be correlated with disease prognosis. We are eager to transfer findings from Drosophila to the vertebrate system in the context of metastasis research. Our prior data leads us to believe that this will lead to the description of an evolutionarily conserved mechanism that regulates invasive migration regulation from fly to vertebrates. This work can lay the ground work for
    understanding the basic biology of a novel vertebrate gene involved in regulating invasion and metastasis, and thus for the eventual development of a new therapeutic target and diagnostic biomarker for the clinic.

  • M3dRES

    Additive Manufacturing for Medical Research

    • Project Number: FFG858060
    • Project Lead: Francesco Moscato, Medical University of Vienna / Center for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering
    • Project Partner: ACMIT - Austrian Center for Medical Innovation and Technology, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Biomechanics
    • Duration: 60 months starting from 01.05.2017

    Background

    The M3dRES project aims at establishing a unique infrastructure devoted to 3d-printing for medical research in a strongly interdisciplinary environment.
    M3dRES provides essential tools for the personalized patient treatment, for the enhancement of medical imaging, for the acceleration of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, and for the modernization of current medical education.

  • Biomarker for the early detection of melanoma

    Compartment specific in depth analysis of blood plasma nucleic acids for highly sensitive detection of early metastic events in melanoma disease

    • Project Number: LSC15_020
    • Project Lead: Jörg Burgstaller, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna / IFA Tulln (VetMed)
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Dermatology and Venereal Diseases (University Hospital St. Pölten), University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna / Clinical Department of Equine Surgery
    • Duration: 54 months starting from 01.05.2017

    Background

    Biomarkers as indicators for therapeutic mode, onset, and response to treatment are rapidly gaining importance in clinical cancer management. Cancer biomarkers are tumour- or patient-related factors, which reflect the biological behaviour of a tumour and thus constitute a prognostic tool. Cutaneous malignant melanoma is a highly aggressive and metastatic tumour arising from cutaneous pigment cells termed melanocytes. Although incidence of melanoma and related mortality are continuously increasing, it is still impossible to predict the metastatic behaviour of melanoma in individual patients.
    In the past five years, the field of "liquid biopsies", i.e. the gain of important information on tumour development via nucleic acid (NA)-based analysis of blood samples, has tremendously progressed. It is now evident that in the blood, tumour-cell derived NAs reside in three different compartments, i.e. (i) intracellular NAs in circulating tumour cells, (ii) NAs in extracellular vesicles, and (iii) freely circulating protein-bound DNA in the plasma. Importantly, extracellular NAs are more abundant in blood, and therefore more accessible.Currently, the clinical applicability of blood-based tumour detection and monitoring methods is still limited to patients with progressive (metastatic) disease. Based on the hypothesis that a compartment-specific NA analysis will considerably aid in improving blood test sensitivity in comparison to holistic approaches, the overall objective of the herein presented study is to exploit the compartmentalization of tumour-derived blood NAs in order to establish a novel strategy for highly sensitive blood-based detection and monitoring of early stage human melanoma disease and metastasis. The applicant and cooperation partners aim at achieving this goal by (i) addressing the amount and composition of extracellular vesicular nucleic acids and circulating free DNA in vitro in order to comparatively evaluate vesicles as a reservoir of potential NA-type biomarkers, (ii) addressing the presence and amount of tumour-derived NA per compartment and possible changes of these parameters over time in a clinical study involving late stage melanoma patients, and by (iii) addressing the presence and amount of the most promising tumour-derived NAs identified in (ii) in a clinical study involving patients with high risk of melanoma recurrence as to achieve earliest possible detection of disease recurrence.

  • Toxicokinetics of mercury in the placenta

    The toxicokinetics of mercury in the human placenta: correlation between genotype and phenotype in healthy and diseased placentas

    • Project Number: LSC15_014
    • Project Lead: Hans Salzer, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Paediatrics (University Hospital Tulln)
    • Project Partner: Medical University of Vienna / Institute of Medical Genetics, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Paediatrics (University Hospital St. Pölten)
    • Duration: 47 months starting from 01.12.2016

    Background

    Normal function of the placenta is pivotal for optimal fetal growth and development. The etiology of placental dysfunction is multifactorial with abundant gene and environment interactions. Placental dysfunctions are implicated in pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes (GDM), pre-eclampsia (PE) and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). We intend to examine a certain aspect of reproductive toxicology, the mercury toxicokinetics in the healthy and diseased (GDM, PE, IUGR) human placenta. Based on the available data on the involved genes/proteins in mercury toxicokinetics from the healthy placenta, we now aim to compare their role and function in healthy and diseased placentas. We are interested whether mercury toxicokinetics are altered in dysfunctional placentas, which is a relevant issue in reproduction toxicology and individualized pregnancy care. We observed variable expression levels of placental proteins involved in mercury toxicokinetics. Our hypotheses are that 1) sequence variations in the candidate genes contribute to altered placental protein expression and as a consequence to altered toxicokinetics in the placenta, and 2) that the genetic background for mercury toxicokinetics is different between healthy and diseased placentae (GDM, PE, IUGR). The placenta is a unique organ for investigating genotype-phenotype relationship because the organ is accessible, protein levels and functions can relatively easy be determined, and also primary cells can be obtained. Methyl mercury (MeHg) is regarded as a model substrate because various amino acids, hormones, cancer drugs, and xenobiotics use at least in part the same transporter and metabolizing/detoxifying systems as the metal species. Studying transport and metabolisation/detoxification of MeHg in healthy and diseased placentas provides valuable data not only for the field of reproductive toxicology. Three groups of proteins related to mercury toxikokinetics are involved in placental (dys)function. There is evidence that amino acid transporter levels are altered in both IUGR and fetal overgrowth and that PE goes along with an altered oxidative defense in the placenta. There is some evidence that also ABC transporters are involved in PE and IUGR. We suggest six proteins, i.e., amino acid transporters LAT1 and b0,+, GSH system related enzymes GGT1 and GSTA1 and ABC transporters MRP1 and MRP3 to be examined in the healthy and diseased placenta. In the proposed study we aim to confirm (1) whether the protein specific effects on mercury toxicokinetics observed in previous experiments are direct effects. Based on the knowledge which proteins are directly related to mercury toxicokinetics, we will determine (2) which known functional genetic variants are related to placental protein expression and mercury contents by comparing healthy and diseased (GDM, PE, IUGR) placentas.

  • CSPG4

    The role of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan 4 in the development of multidrug tolerance in melanoma cells

    • Project Number: LSC15_007
    • Project Lead: Christine Hafner, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Dermatology and Venereal Diseases (University Hospital St. Pölten)
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Institute of Pathology (University Hospital St. Pölten), Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Institute of Pathology (University Hospital Krems), Medical University of Vienna / Institute of Pathophysiology and Allergy Research, University of Queensland / Dermatology Research Centre
    • Duration: 48 months starting from 01.11.2016

    Background

    Malignant melanoma is the most frequent cause of skin cancer-related deaths. Despite the progress in understanding the biology of this disease, it still remains a significant clinical problem. Melanoma is often associated with activating mutations in the BRAF gene at the amino acid position 600, which results in an uncontrolled activation of the MAP-kinase pathway and - as a consequence - leads to increased cell proliferation and migration. Although several BRAF inhibitors, such as vemurafenib, have been proven to be highly effective in inhibiting BRAFV600 mutated melanomas, resistant-associated secondary mutations, which reactivate alternative survival pathways, often occur. We have recently reported on the response of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan 4 (CSPG4)-specific Abs to enhance the anti-proliferative effects of vemurafenib. These data implied that the microenvironment is important in determining the effect of targeting CSPG4 on cell migration and invasion and suggest a role for CSPG4 in the phenotypic plasticity of melanoma cells and the emergence of a transient drug-resistant state. Central to the model of stress-induced drug tolerance resulting in multi-drug resistant cancer cells called induced-drug tolerant cells (IDTCs) is their propensity to develop colonies for which cell adhesion is crucial. Based on these findings of cell adhesion and cell motility being crucial for early drug resistance we propose that anti-CSPG4 antibodies, which have shown promising results in two different animal models, prevent or delay IDTC formation in mutant BRAF melanoma cells if combined with standard treatment modalities such as BRAF and MEK inhibitors. During this project we will validate this hypothesis with in vitro and in vivo models of melanoma, we will analyse changes on protein and gene expression levels induced by these treatment modalities and we will validate these experimental data on patients´-derived melanoma samples. Targeting IDTCs with anti-CSPG4 antibodies could be a crucial step for the prevention of acquired drug resistance.

  • PHAGE

    The importance of phage-induced transduction for the acquisition and persistence of antibiotic resistance

    • Project Number: LSC14_006
    • Project Lead: Friederike Hilbert, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna / Institute of Food Safety, Food Technology and Veterinary Public Health
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Institute of Hygiene and Microbiology (University Hospital St. Pölten)
    • Duration: 42 months starting from 01.03.2016

    Background

    Hospital-acquired-infections caused by antibiotic resistant pathogens is a global concern to public health. Even the Obama Administration has recently acknowledged the need for innovative research to slow down the public health threat of antibiotic resistant bacteria with a National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria (CARB). The increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistant and multi-drug-resistant pathogens has been shown to considerably expand the burden of disease, despite numerous infection control measures and modern hospital epidemiology. Thus,antimicrobial resistance in microbes is considered to be one of the major threats in medicine and public health worldwide. The horizontal spread of antimicrobial resistance between bacteria is a critical step in the development of resistance during therapy, the dissemination of resistance between different bacterial species, the acquisition of resistance from environmental sources, and the evolution of the bacterial host. An understanding of the mechanisms of horizontal transfer of antimicrobial resistance genes between microorganisms inside and outside of the host is essential to finding strategies to combat their spread. Current knowledge is that the transfer of resistance factors is largely due to conjugative plasmids or transposons and only to a minor extent transduction via bacteriophages. However, based on whole genome sequencing it has been hypothesized that the latter mechanism might play a substantially more important role in the transfer of antimicrobial resistance than is currently accepted. Recently we were able to show that phage transduction is of primary importance in the acquisition of therapeutically important resistance genes in Escherichia coli found on food. We reported that chicken meat carries a number of coli-phages capable of transferring antimicrobial resistance. High numbers of randomly tested phages were able to transduce one or more antimicrobial resistances. Phage transduction of specific resistance elements appears to be widely distributed. This mechanism of transfer may explain unanswered questions regarding the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistant pathogens. In this proposal we hypothesize that transduction of antibiotic resistance by phages in the medical environment takes place and has important consequences for human health. Thus, the development of new control strategies to cope with phage persistence and transduction need to be found. Thus, we propose to investigate the significance of transduction in the medical environment for hospital-associated pathogens causing major problems by means of antibiotic resistance like Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. We will isolate and characterize antimicrobial resistance transferring phages, clarify the mechanisms of transfer, analyse the therapeutic importance and finally explore the transduced bacterial host for phage transmission and virulence.

  • NRF2 Melanoma

    The role of NRF2 for Melanoma Progression - Insights into the mechanimsm of metastasis

    • Project Number: LSC14_007
    • Project Lead: Harald Hundsberger, IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Dermatology and Venereal Diseases (University Hospital St. Pölten), Medical University of Vienna / Institute of Medical Genetics
    • Duration: 36 months starting from 01.03.2016

    Background

    Melanoma is one of the most frequent tumors in young adults and despite it only accounts for 4% of all cases of skin cancer, melanoma is responsible for 79% of all skin cancer related deaths. Despite progress has been achieved in treatment of Melanoma (e.g with B-raf inhibitors), finally patients succumb due to resistance mechanisms acquired by the tumor. Many lines of evidence have shown that especially metastatic melanoma exhibits a strong metabolic turnover, which is needed to fuel cell proliferation and anabolic pathways. This increased cellular turnover also results in an increased demand to maintain the redox homeostasis. Here we propose to analyze this high metabolic and therefore also ROS (Reactive Oxigen Species) generating stress as a possible Achilles heel of melanoma. One of the major regulators of stress response in cancer is NRF2. It plays a central role in protection of cells against oxidative and xenobiotic stresses. Therefore the inhibition of NRF2 or its target genes might re-establish the sensitivity of melanoma to apoptosis driven by ROS. Furthermore this mechanism could prevent resistance mechanisms frequently observed in metastatic melanoma and it might abolish the frequently observed activation of endothelial cells, which surround tumor cells. It is highly likely that a combination of state of the art melanoma treatment with compounds that inhibit the generation of ROS scavengers, potentiates the effectiveness of the current treatment regiments. We will use CRISPR based methods as well as pharmacological inhibition to elucidate the mechanistic role of NRF2 in melanoma cells and on endothelial cells. Furthermore we will transfer knowledge gained from our model by closely cooperating with clinicians, who routinely care for melanoma patients. Concluding, we propose that abolishing the antioxidative response by suppressing NRF2 directly or its targets will be an effective contribution in the battle to fight metastatic melanoma.

  • Future of Hearing

    Future of Hearing

    • Project Number: LSC14_027
    • Project Lead: Georg Mathias Sprinzl, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Otorhinolaryngology (University Hospital St. Pölten)
    • Project Partner: Hannover Medical School / Biomaterial Engineering, CEST
    • Duration: 37 months starting from 01.02.2016

    Background

    Severe deafness (1.7% of the total population) leads to social isolation, disability and early dementia. Hearing aids and cochlear implants (CI) bring help here, but eliminate the socio-economic effects only partially. The reason lies in the failure of the so-called "Cocktail Party Ability", where with a healthy hearing one can focus on a single conversation in a noisy room.
    This data processing is not found in the cortex, but the latter actively controls a filtering in the auditory organ (cochlea) via a down-going multilevel, efferent control. Despite all signal processing in hearing aids and CI, this unconscious regulation is difficult to imitate and their regulation by patients remains almost unused because of inconvenience. What is missing is the technical closing of the extended loop consisting of cochlea, cortex and hearing aid / CI.
    With Brain Computer Interfaces (BCI), the connection of the cortex or underlying stations of auditory efference to hearing aids could be possible in the future, albeit to a large extent cooperation of audiologists, neurosurgeons, electrophysiologists, electrode developers, modeling neuro- and cognitive scientists is needed. The University Hospital St. Pölten (UKStP) of the Karl Landsteiner Private University for Health Sciences recommends itself as the initiator of a roadmap, which incorporates the state of knowledge into teaching, evaluates the application focus and communicates a consensus on challenges and milestones.
    In addition to this long-term approach, in the first, smaller experiments it will be tested if efferent control can work. These experiments as part of ongoing animal experiments and CI patients allow easier access to the efferent auditory system to test (compound action potential CAP, tonotopic action potentials in sensing CI mode and EEG leads). A success would be a tentative conclusion of efferent regulation allowing patients to learn to use the efference - possibly as intuitive as BCI-controlled limbs *. (* Collinger JL et al, J. Clin. Trans. Science (2014) 7, 1, 1752-8062)

  • Tumor Cachexia

    Metabolic characterization of chronic inflammatory conditions such as metabolic syndrome and tumor cachexia

    • Project Number: LSC14_021
    • Project Lead: Martin Pecherstorfer, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Internal Medicine 2 (University Hospital Krems)
    • Project Partner: IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems / Applied Bioanalytics & Drug Development, University of Vienna / Department of Analytical Chemistry, Medical University Graz / Core Facility Mass Spectrometry, Medical University of Vienna / Institute of Medical Statistics, Rudolfstiftung Hospital / Karl Landsteiner Institute for Obesity and Metabolic Diseases
    • Duration: 54 months starting from 01.02.2016

    Background

    The clinical picture of the metabolic syndrome (MeS) is characterized by obesity, hypertension, insulin resistance and pathological blood lipid levels. Furthermore, the existence of a chronic inflammatory state in the adipose tissue leads to changes in the lipid metabolism of the fat cells. As a result, this leads to a disturbed uptake, deposition and release of lipids and free fatty acids. Interestingly, in the blood plasma of patients with tumor cachexia (CaC), lipid and inflammatory markers are similar to those of the metabolic syndrome. Tumor cachexia (CaC) is the term for a metabolic disorder that occurs as a result of cancer. This disorder leads to cachexia of the patient and emaciation.
    For research, this raises two important questions: What are the pathophysiological processes in the metabolic syndrome and the tumor syndrome cachexia? Is there a common biological marker for the pathophysiological processes in metabolic syndrome and tumor cachexia?

  • OsteoSim

    Computer simulation models for the early detection of osteoporosis

    • Project Number: FFG850746
    • Project Lead: Dieter Pahr, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Biomechanics
    • Project Partner: Danube University Krems / Department of Regenerative Medicine, Braincon GmbH&CoKG, Technische Universität Wien / Institute for Lightweight Design and Structural Biomechanics
    • Duration: 36 months starting from 01.12.2015

    Background

    Osteoporosis is a common age disease of the bone. The cause of osteoporosis is usually a hormonal change. Older women are predominantly affected, but men are also increasingly suffering from this disease. The widespread of osteoporosis is gradually becoming a health economic problem. Osteoporosis gradually reduces bone density. As a result, the entire skeleton is weakened biomechanically and it is more likely to suffer from bone fractures. In clinical practice, the diagnosis of osteoporosis or, in general, the estimation of a fracture risk on the basis of bone density measurement (BMD measurement) is carried out. According to WHO, a T <-2.5 standard deviation is the critical threshold for the diagnosis of osteoporosis. Unfortunately, results of studies (eg, Rotterdam study3) show that in a group with non-vertebral fractures, only 44 percent of women and 21 percent of men had a value below -2.5. The final goal is to combine both medical reports from osteoporosis and osteoarthrosis together with new, validated assessment models, which gives better results than the T-score. As a secondary goal, relationships and possible interactions of both diseases are shown. This is to be achieved by four research tasks: new models of osteoporosis, standardization of radiographs, combined findings - correlations osteoporosis and osteoarthrosis, validation of new osteoporosis assessment models.

  • TIFOS

    Totally implantable fiber-optic sound sensing system for cochlear- and middle-ear hearing aids

    • Project Number: LSC14_026
    • Project Lead: Nikolaus Dellantoni, ACMIT - Austrian Center for Medical Innovation and Technology
    • Project Partner: Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division of Otorhinolaryngology (University Hospital St. Pölten), Resident Specialist
    • Duration: 42 months starting from 01.11.2015

    Background

    Implantable hearing aids are in clinical use since more than 25 years. These include cochlear implants (CI), auditory brainstem implants (ABIs), bone-anchored hearing aids (BAHA) and implantable middle-ear implants (MEI). The main challenge for all these implantable devices is a lack of reliability of the implantable microphone due to a constant decrease of the initial sensitivity after exploitation. In this project we propose a contactless fiber-optic sensing technique based on low-coherence interferometry for amplitude measurement of the hearing ossicles, e.g. incus or malleus. Our approach is physiologically fully justified because sound transmission to the inner ear can be realized without any obstacles, taking advantage of the natural amplification properties of the outer ear and the ear drum. There is no feedback noise and signal distortion due to decoupling the microphone from the actuator. The contactless method does not change the original properties of the acoustic signal at all and the ossicle chain stays intact. The distance of about 5 mm between the sensing fiber and ossicle is large enough to prevent scarring. This also allows to use the device in case of small quasi-static long-term movements of ossicle in the middle-ear, that usually occur during the children growth, or rather large quasi-static short-term movements in case of alternation of atmospheric pressure or chewing. The current prototype of the device can reach sensitivity of about 40db SPL and about 70db SPL in audio frequency range which now should be further improved to around 30 dB SPL by increasing the signal-to-noise-ratio (SNR) of the system, accomplished by noise suppression of some individual parts of the system, like light source, fiber-optic link, photo receiver, or overall sensing configuration. Additionally, a more effective algorithm will be developed and embedded in a low-consumption DSP. The results will be verified by pre-clinical ex-vivo examination

  • Freud & Lipps

    Freud, Lipps and the problem of empathy

    • Project Number: CICLO XXXI SSD M-FIL/O3
    • Project Lead: Patrizia Giampieri-Deutsch, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Psychodynamics
    • Duration: 48 months starting from 01.10.2015

    Background

    The research project, from which the dissertation "Freud, Lipps and the Problem of Empathy" as well as a number of publications have emerged, examines a philosophical source of Sigmund Freud that has not yet been fully elaborated. The concept of empathy, much-discussed in light of new results in the neuroscientific and cognitive field (not least because of the discovery of mirror neurons), has led to a revival of the theories of Theodor Lipps, one of the most important pioneers of empathy research. The historical research opens a new reading of Lipps' texts. Five appendices complete the dissertation with new translations of Lipps´ texts. Against the background of current research the work of Dr. Ivan Rotella systematizes the concept of empathy as elaborated by Lipps and its influence on Sigmund Freud.

  • DrinkingWATER@building

    Knowledge transfer and exchange of experience on drinking water quality in buildings

    • Project Number: FFG4952809
    • Project Lead: Thomas Czerny, FH Campus Vienna
    • Project Partner: AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences / Division Water Quality and Health, OFI - Austrian Research Institute, Ecoplus. The Business Agency of Lower Austria
    • Duration: 6 months starting from 13.10.2014

Events

  1. 03 Nov

    KL Lunchtime Seminar: On the Physiological Role of Store-Operated Calcium Entry in Skeletal Muscle

    03. November 2021, 12:00 - 13:00
    Karl Landsteiner University, 3500 Krems/Donau, Wing Y, KL Auditorium