Astacin Proteases

X-ray crystal structure of Meprin β (blue-green) with the model of an inhibitor developed at Fraunhofer IZI in the active center (orange)
© Fraunhofer IZI

The human genome contains information for about 600 proteolytically active enzymes involved in a variety of different regulatory processes. A disturbed or deregulated function of these proteinases therefore often leads to the development of diseases.

An interesting family of proteinases are the astacins, which in the human organism comprise the bone morphogenetic protein 1 (BMP-1), the meprins α and β and ovastacin. Furthermore, astacin proteases of other organisms, e.g. parasitic pathogens, are also potential drug targets. In recent years, meprins in particular have moved into the focus of drug research and represent promising targets for the treatment of kidney disease, fibrosis and cancer.

Based on the recently gained knowledge on inhibitors of meprins, the group is working on the design and further development of meprin inhibitors. In addition, the first inhibitors of ovastacin are being developed, which is also an innovative and interesting drug target for the treatment of infertility. In addition to these human proteinases, astacins from parasitic nematodes will also be addressed in order to develop novel drugs for the treatment of worm diseases.


Here we show you a selection of current projects.


Here is an overview of the methods we use.



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Here you will find an overview of all publications that have emerged from the research work of our unit.