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About LUNA

The LUNA centre is directed jointly by Allan Flyvbjerg (AUH) and Jørgen Kjems (iNANO) and will run for five years starting 1 March 2010. The main objective of the research centre is to create nanomedicine based techniques and drugs for individualized prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular and musculoskeletal diseases.

Cardiovascular (CVD) and musculoskeletal (MSD) diseases are two of the main causes of disability in the western world. The economic burden of these two diseases is already tremendous and will continue to grow along with the increased aging of the Western populations. Besides the direct economic burden these diseases also have large indirect costs such as premature mortality, chronic and short-term disability and a significantly reduced quality of life for the affected patients. Present limited success in the management of CVD and MSD is likely a consequence of their multifactorial pathogenesis, where disease development is determined by environmental factors as well as individual susceptibility. Consequently, there is huge need and desire to develop new and novel approaches to tailored treatment for these important diseases. A promising strategy to meet these expectations is the joining of forces with backgrounds in nanoscience and translational medicine to perform cross-disciplinary research.

Central for the research in the LUNA centre is the hypothesis that cardiovascular and musculoskeletal diseases are caused by an imbalance in tissue damage and the body’s natural ability to repair or rebuild damaged tissues. Thus, an important part of the centers’ work is focused on determining the underlying mechanisms causing these diseases, and furthermore, the development of nanobased techniques to monitor and restore balance and stimulate tissue regeneration. The central hypothesis is that a group of newly discovered molecules (‘patterns recognition molecules’) play a central role in the imbalance between tissue damage and the capacity for regeneration and in part explain differences in individual susceptibility to disease development. 
The projects are closely coordinated along four central themes:

1) Drug design and target validation, aiming at identifying key molecular mechanisms in pattern recognition and the functional states of complement proteins,

2) New bioimaging and drug delivery technologies, will combine discoveries from theme 1 with the development of ligands and ligand-bound nanocarriers allowing in vivo detection by advanced molecular imaging techniques to provide improved diagnosis and drug targeting,

3) Cell based therapy and 3D scaffold-based tissue engineering aimed at finding means of restoring tissue function after irreversible damage by controlling stem cell differentiation through specially designed nanoparticles and scaffolds and

4) Translational research in animal models ensuring the parallel testing of promising antagonist/agonist, bioimaging and drug delivery strategies and tissue engineering in relevant animal models to provide initial proof-of-concept for the development of novel therapies in humans. 

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Revised 2016.02.15