Matthias A. Hediger
Diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, osteoporosis and neurodegenerative diseases have one thing in common: they are often linked to the dysfunction of membrane proteins such as ion channels and transporters. A broad pathophysiological, biochemical and structural knowledge of these proteins will open the door to rational, ligand-based drug design.
In the late 1980th, working together with Ernest M. Wright at the University of Los Angeles, CA, USA, Hediger developed the expression cloning technique for membrane transport proteins (Hediger et al., Nature 1987 330:379-81 and Hediger et al., Methods Enzymol. 1998 296:17-52). Using this technique, he identified and characterized various transport proteins, including transporters of iron, vitamin C, urea, citrate, glutamate, dibasic amino acids and peptides, as well as epithelial calcium channels. In addition, he investigated their physiological implications in major human diseases.
Hediger has obtained patent protection on several commercially important transporters. In recognition of his work, he received the 2004 Rank Prize in Nutritional Sciences (Surrey, UK) and the 2009 Japanese Society for the Study of Xenobiotics Award (Kyoto, Japan).
To promote the transporter field in the biomedical and pharmaceutical areas, Hediger has established two international conference series:
- The International Gordon Research Conference Series on the physiological and pathological aspects of transporters
- The International BioMedical Transporter Conference Series on the pharmaceutical aspects of transporters.
In addition, he edited a special issue in the Pflügers Archiv - European Journal of Physiology entitled "The ABC's of solute carriers" (2004, Vol. 447) which features the first systematic summary of the biomedical aspects of all classical transporter families. He then established a web-based genomic resource of the HUGO approved transporter families (www.bioparadigms.org). Early in 2013, Hediger released as guest editor another series of the currently 52 SLC families in Molecular Aspects of Medicine (Elsevier Ltd.), the special issue entitled: "The ABC of membrane transporters in health and disease (SLC series)". Currently, he serves as Special Advisor on solute carriers to the HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC).
Hediger has completed numerous corporate-sponsored research projects with international pharmaceutical companies and maintains a broad network across the university boundary.
Currently, Hediger is focussing on pharmaceutically attractive transport proteins such as the epithelial calcium channel TRPV6, amino acid transports, iron transporters, and the urate transporter GLUT9. His premise is that integration of physiology, pathology, structural biology and chemistry will be tremendously beneficial in accelerating the translational avenue from "gene to drug".
This avenue should include the elucidation of the atomic structures of the ligand- and drug binding sites in order to design therapeutic drugs that bind selectively and with high specificity to target membrane proteins.
Function in NCCR
- Principal Investigator (PI)
Professor and Director, Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, University of Berne, Switzerland
- Dr. sc. nat. Biochemistry, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich, Switzerland
- M.Sc. in Biochemistry, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich, Switzerland
- Specialist Advisor, HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC)
- American Physiological Society
- International BioIron Society
- Rank Prize Funds, Surrey, UK: Award in recognition of work on the identification, molecular characterization and control of cellular nutrient transporters (2004)
- Japanese Society for the Study of Xenobiotics Award (Kyoto, Japan) (2009)