TBG-Project Robert Fürst and team

Natural Products Genomics

Preclinical in vitro testing of natural compounds

Institution: Institute of Pharmaceutical Biology, Goethe University Frankfurt

TBG group members

  • Prof. Dr. Robert Fürst
  • Dr. Pelin Erkoc-Erik, postdoc (25.05.2020 – 30.09.2021, parental leave substitute)
  • Dr. Rebecca Ingelfinger, postdoc (01.07.2018 – 24.05.2020, parental leave)

TBG project summary

Natural compounds are chemical substances produced by living organisms. Due to their ability to interact with biological systems, they are very well suited as lead structures in drug discovery. Their importance is demonstrated in particular by the fact that two thirds of all approved drugs are directly related to natural compounds.

Our project aims at preclinically investigating natural compounds discovered within the LOEWE TBG consortium in the field of cancer and inflammation. We focus on effects of these compounds on endothelial cells. Most importantly, functional in vitro screening assays will be used to test the ability of natural compounds to affect (i) the interaction of leukocytes with activated endothelial cells (inflammation) and (ii) angiogenesis-associated processes (cancer).

Up to now, we have extensively tested compounds from Photorhabdus, Xenorhabdus and Pseudomonas strains from the group of Helge Bode and have identify xenocoumacins as interesting compounds with promising pharmacological activities that will be characterized in detail in a future project. Moreover, we also tested extracts from six different lichen species provided by the group of Imke Schmitt and identified lichen extracts with significant pharmacological in vitro activities. Currently, we are testing compounds derived from different animal venoms.

Group expertise / Methods

  • Inflammation
  • Angiogenesis
  • tumor metastasis
  • human cell culture
  • cell biology
  • biochemistry and molecular biology
  • functional in vitro test systems
  • high-content, medium throughput screening
  • identification of the underlying molecular mechanisms
  • molecular pharmacology


Ingelfinger R, Henke M, Roser L, Ulshöfer T, Calchera A, Singh G, Parnham MJ, Geisslinger G, Fürst R, Schmitt I and Schiffmann S (2020) Unraveling the Pharmacological Potential of Lichen Extracts in the Context of Cancer and Inflammation With a Broad Screening Approach. Front. Pharmacol. 11:1322. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2020.01322