CeNTech R & D

Dr. Kristina Riehemann

Center for Nanotechnology / Physikalisches Institut
Heisenbergstraße 11, D - 48149 Münster
Phone: +49 (0)251 / 83-63837
Fax: +49 (0)251 / 83-63883
Mobile: +49 (0)177 533 60 99

Dr. Kristina Riehemann

Research Focus: Nano-Medicine

The generation of small particles may be a major issue for discussion in nanotechnology with respect to pharmacology and toxicology. Due to the potentially high reactivity based on the large surface-to-volume ratio of nanoparticles as compared to bulk systems there is a chance of latent risk for new nanosystems as well as a possibility of new action mechanisms useful for medical application. A close cooperation between different research disciplines is necessary to exploit the chances as well as to take care for the risks.


Inflammation is an integral part of many healing processes; a directed and well-tuned physiological aspect of the body's recovering. It may, however, get out of control and develop into a pathologic chronic inflammation (CI), a disease by itself. What makes CI so insidious is the fact that the typical patient history is one of decade-long suffering. Most symptoms can be controlled with palliative therapy for some time - but often the price paid by the patient is a dramatically reduced quality of life (QOL) as well as potentially life-threatening side effects from the drugs used. The range of CI conditions is remarkably broad, and so is the variety of causes (e.g. non-healing acute inflammation, autoimmune reactions or a hyperactive immune system).

Furthermore, evidence indicates that uncontrolled CI may be a significant underlying cause of cancer, atherosclerosis, vascular and heart diseases and a number of other diseases related to systemic stress. Additionally, a direct relationship between senescence of the immune system and CI in elderly people was demonstrated. Thus, CI may be the basic cause of many of the age-related chronic diseases.

Mechanisms of the interaction of nanoparticles and nanostructured surfaces with cells

The focus of this project is to investigate the effects of the interaction of biological systems with nanoparticles (NP) and nanoparticle coated surfaces used for pharmaceutical purposes. Functionalized surfaces that present none or a very low rate of unwanted side effects required in medical applications. The objective is to describe the reaction of immune cells with NP – either in a free form or coated. For the experiments primary cultured of lymphocytes and macrophages are used as biomedical test systems. In additional experiments the toxic and carcinogenic potential of NP are investigated.

Measures for the reaction of the immune cells are for example

  • an increased production of toxic oxygen radicals, nitric oxide, and hydrolytic lysosomal enzymes
  • the secretion of cytokines as for example TNF-alpha, IL-1ß and IL-10
  • addressing of TLR 4

    The reactions of the cells are demonstrated for example by CLSM (Confocal Laserscan Microscopy), scanning electron microscopic (SEM) or Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) just to mention a few.

Analysis of physical properties of single cell

Additionally, nanoanalytical tools as "Atomic force microscopy (AFM)" and microfluidic techniques are applied to analyze immune cells at a single cells level. The aim is the characterization of the physical properties of cells by nanoanalytical tools.

It was shown that dependent on the inflammatory activation state the leucocytes show an altered elastic behaviour.