TU Dresden


The aim of research at the Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden (CRTD) is to gain a fundamental understanding of stem cell biology and tissue regeneration and to use this knowledge to develop better models for diseases, as well as lay the groundwork for new diagnostics and therapies for human health.

CRTD takes advantage of multiple model organisms with varying regenerative capacities, from zebrafish, to amphibians, to mammals. This enables comparative biological approaches to identify key pro- and anti-regenerative factors and pathways in a given tissue, and these molecular targets can, in turn, be utilized to develop new therapeutic approaches.

Our core interests focus on four research areas:

Neurodegenerative Diseases
Bone and Tissue Regeneration

In each of these research areas, CRTD and its partners in the CRTD Members group conduct basic research to identify novel therapeutic potential and further develop this in translational research projects. As well as providing the basis for testing in clinical research, these programs also generate innovative research tools and strategies for transfer to commerce.

Basic research

Our basic research is focused on elucidating the mechanisms underlying the emergence of tissues from embryonic progenitors in a variety of systems, including the central nervous system and the retina, the haematopoietic system, the pancreas and bone. CRTD researchers investigate lineage commitment decisions, and key regulatory molecules that direct self-renewal and differentiation, tissue homeostasis and repair, as well as the aberrant signalling that occurs in disease.

© Jörg Simanowski

Research tools

In order to address basic research challenges in innovative ways, our research groups develop cutting-edge tools. These include induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived cellular models of both healthy and diseased human tissues, which are used to identify key processes and potential target proteins, as well as for drug screening.

In addition, we employ a range of unique animal models, from genetically tailored zebrafish lines to humanized mouse models. Dedicated technology platforms  also supports our research groups with high-end facilities for microscopy, deep sequencing, single-cell transcriptomics, animal behaviour, etc.

Translational research

The aim of translational research is to move the discoveries made in basic research toward clinical application. Specifically, CRTD focuses on the development of cell-based therapies, chemical and peptide based regenerative medicines, and diagnostic tools. The pathway from bench to bedside is technically difficult with many stages of technology maturation, and hence, a multidisciplinary approach is essential, involving many CRTD Member groups each bringing their specific expertise to the project. Expertise on the BIOPOLIS campus covers early stage in vitro and in vivo disease modelling, GMP cell scaling and production and clinical trial design and execution.

We are developing cell-based therapies for diabetes and retinopathy, and drug-based regenerative medicines for Parkinson's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, and type 1 diabetes.

Clinical trial activities

© Thomas Albrecht

Ongoing clinical activities include the use of cord-blood mesenchymal stromal cells to suppress immune responses of tissue grafts to the host in Graft versus Host Disease (Prof. Dr. med Martin Bornhäuser), and the transplantation of encapsulated pancreatic islets (PD Dr. med. Barbara Ludwig; see picture on the left) in type I diabetics. The group of Prof. Ezio Bonifacio (Director, CRTD) has performed ground-breaking research on the early diagnosis of type 1 diabetes and is now running a clinical study aiming to provide early diagnosis of type 1 diabetes in children who have elevated genetic risk (Freder1k study).

Transfer activities

CRTD research groups consistently identify new targets for potential therapies and generate novel models of regenerative diseases, including cell culture configurations, cell production strategies and screening platforms. The potential value of such discoveries is routinely captured through the filing of patents and marketed to industry through development collaborations.