Heike Wulff

Heike Wulff

Position Title
Associate Professor

Unit
Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine

GBSF 3502
Bio

Research Interests

My laboratory focuses on the design of new potassium channel modulators as research tools and as potential drugs. We are particularly interested in the voltage-gated Kv1.3 and the calcium-activated KCa3.1 channels in immune cells and in the calcium-activated KCa2/3 channels in the cardiovascular and nervous system. In human T and B lymphocytes Kv1.3 and KCa3.1 are critically involved in regulation of membrane potential, calcium signaling, proliferation and cytokine secretion. Expression of these two channels changes dramatically as T and B cells differentiate from naïve into memory cells, allowing the selective targeting of memory T and B cells with Kv1.3 blocking compounds. We further demonstrated that Kv1.3 is over-expressed on autoreactive T cells in the blood from patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and type-1 diabetes as well as in the infiltrating T cells in active MS brain lesions. Kv1.3 is therefore regarded as a promising target for the treatment of memory T cell mediated autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, type-1 diabetes and psoriasis. Through a combination of synthetic medicinal chemistry and electrophysiology we have successfully developed selective small molecule blockers for both KCa3.1 and Kv1.3 and are currently evaluating these in various animal models of autoimmune disease and transplant rejection. For example, our small molecule Kv1.3 blocker PAP-1 suppresses allergic contact dermatitis and prevents type-1 diabetes in rats, while our KCa3.1 blocker TRAM-34 can prevent restenosis in rats and pigs and atheriosclerosis in mice. Another project in my laboratory is the design of activators of small- and intermediate-conductance calcium-activated potassium channel modulators as potential therapeutics for the treatment of ataxia, epilepsy and hypertension.

Grad Group Affiliations

  • Chemistry
  • Immunology
  • Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology
  • Pharmacology and Toxicology (PTX)

Specialties

  • Molecular Physiology
  • Neurophysiology

Courses

  • PTX 230 Drug Discovery and Development, Winter
  • PTX 290 Rotation Presentations
  • PHA 400A Principles of Pharmacology, Block 2 Medical Students

Professional Societies

  • American Chemical Society
  • Biophysical Society
  • ASPET

Degrees

  • 1998 PhD Medicinal Chemistry University of Kiel, Germany

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