Zuppinger Lab

Focus Research

Our research group is working in the field of Cardio-Oncology, the cardiology specialization dealing with cardiotoxic effects of cancer therapies. The clinical research and counseling team at the hospital is headed by Prof. Dr. med. Thomas M. Suter (http://www.kardiologie.insel.ch/de/aerzte-und-zuweiser/sprechstunden-herzschwaeche/kardio-onkologie/ ). In the lab, we have studied the mechanisms of potentially cardiotoxic effects of classic chemotherapies such as anthracyclines or paclitaxel, but also of so-called targeted therapies such as tyrosine kinase inhibitors and antibody therapies against HER2 or VEGF-receptors. Additionally, we have studied the role of the vascular survival factor neuregulin by using primary adult rat ventricular cardiomyocytes and microvascular endothelial cells in culture. However, the limitations of animal-derived models became more and more evident when targeted immunotherapies were introduced, such as Trastuzumab, Bevacizumab. We therefore investigated human iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes in 3D cell culture formats and have recently focused on the development and testing of these cell culture models. We have investigated spontaneous and electrically paced contraction-activity of cardiomyocytes, microtissue cytoarchitecture, and expression of selected genes related to cellular maturation and activation, electrophysiological properties and ultrastructure after up to one month in 3D-culture. Currently, we are investigating the outcome of cancer therapies based on proteasome-inhibitors on 2D- and 3D-cultured hiPSC-derived cardiomyocytes as well as effects of alcohol or nano-diamonds on these cells in collaboration with other national and international research groups and companies.