Welcome to the Merkel lab!

The Merkel lab is based in the Department of Pharmacy at LMU Munich with a satellite lab within the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Wayne State University, Detroit, and focuses on novel non-viral and targeted nanosized siRNA delivery systems. We are especially interested in local drug, gene, and siRNA delivery with an emphasis on pulmonary delivery for applications in cancer immunology and inflammatory diseases.

In 2006, Andrew Fire and Greg Mello were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology for their discovery of gene silencing by introduction of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) (1). Their work led to the identification of a catalytic mechanism of a multi-protein complex (2) which incorporates short RNAs that on their part are complementary in sequence to mRNA which is subsequently degraded (1). This mechanism can also be exploited biotechnologically. Long dsRNA which naturally or directedly reach the cytoplasm are degraded by “Dicer”, an RNase III-like enzyme, into small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) of 21 to 25 nucleotides in length (3). 
After being transferred into the cytosol, where it is incorporated into the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC), double-stranded siRNA is cleaved upon activation of RISC, and complementary mRNA can bind to the antisense strand. Argonaute (Ago2), an endonuclease in the RISC, subsequently cleaves the mRNA leading to down-regulation of the target gene expression.
Since the discovery of an RNA interference (RNAi) mechanism in mammalian cells, RNAi is routinely used in functional genomics and drug development (4, 5). RNA based therapeutics, however, are rather sparse. 

(1)    Fire, A. et al., (1998) Nature 391, 806-11.

(2)    Hammond, S. M. et al., (2001) Science 293, 1146-50.
(3)    Agrawal, N. et al., (2003) Microbiol Mol Biol Rev 67, 657-85.

(4)  Dorsett, Y. and Tuschl, T. (2004) Nat Rev Drug Discov 3, 318-29.
(5)  Gomase, V. S., and Tagore, S. (2008) Curr Drug Metab 9, 241-4.

  • Dan's microfluidics paper in Nanotechnology is online! Dan's Paper in Nanotechnology is now online! http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1361-6528/aa6d15/meta;jsessionid=8D5AD654C5F1B1D6D9AE001C3C142E5E.ip-10-40-1-105 Congrats Dan!!
    Posted May 11, 2017, 11:57 AM by Olivia Merkel
  • Rima's previous project is published An exciting project Rima participated in during her time in Bonn just got published in AJHG: http://www.cell.com/ajhg/fulltext/S0002-9297(16)30440-2Congrats Rima!
    Posted May 11, 2017, 11:56 AM by Olivia Merkel
  • Prof. Merkel speaks at CLINAM Prof. Merkel will talk at the CLINAM meeting on Monday, May 8 at 3.30 pm about "Microfluidic Assembly of Nucleic Acid Loaded Nanoparticles". Join us if you can!https ...
    Posted May 11, 2017, 11:55 AM by Olivia Merkel
  • Prof. Merkel delivers DPhG seminar in Erlangen Prof. Merkel is giving a talk on new therapy approaches for asthma in Erlangen on May 4 at 8.15 pm. Join us if you can! http://www.dphg.de ...
    Posted May 11, 2017, 11:54 AM by Olivia Merkel
  • Rima and Tobias present at NIM workshop Rima and Tobias are presenting posters at a NIM conference in Munich on May 2 with amazing speakers including Kazunori Kataoka. Join them at their posters if you can!http ...
    Posted May 11, 2017, 11:53 AM by Olivia Merkel
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Prof. Olivia Merkel
Professor for Drug Delivery
LMU Munich
Butenandtstraße 5
81377 München