1. Programmed cell death (apoptosis)
Apoptosis is a fundamental biological phenomenon, equal in its importance to proliferation and differentiation processes. We are investigating this phenomenon in several directions:
a. Follow-up of the molecular changes occurring in the cell nucleus and its envelope during apoptosis. Use of molecular markers of the nuclear envelope that were discovered by us.
b. Analysis of thymic stromal cell-induced thymocyte apoptosis and its mechanism.
c. Molecular regulatory mechanisms of stress-induced apoptosis. The model is regulated interaction between steroids and neuropeptides.
d. Study of apoptosis induced by anti-cancer drugs, mechanism of the phenomenon, and ways to enhance it, as means of improving cancer treatment.
2. Cancer - New approaches in diagnosis and treatment
a. Study of the components of the cell nuclear envelope and nuclear skeleton in normal and malignant state, and their application in diagnosis.
b. Study of proteolytic enzymes as means of cancer treatment.
3. The thymus and its role in immune system development
The thymus is a complex organ, playing a central role in development of the immune system and maintenance of its proper functioning. The thymus is composed of stroma cells (mostly epithelial) and thymocytes. We are investigating the mechanism of action of these two cell populations, and the interaction between them. Apparently these two cells have mutual effects that regulate growth, specialization and functioning. These effects occur by direct contact between cells as well as by secretion of active molecules. This research is important both for understanding the development of the immune system and as a model of intercellular interactions that regulate growth processes and differentiation in multi-cellular organisms. We are currently investigating the mutual effects on the level of single cells in vitro, in organ cultures and in animals, using a variety of molecular, cellular, immunological and histological methods.