Gertsch Group

Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, University of Bern, Switzerland


Laboratory Homepage




We study the molecular mechanisms of action of small organic compounds and use them as tools to understand biochemical and biological processes. We are interested in molecular pharmacology and the mechanistic role of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in inflammation and neuromodulation. In particular, we study how endogenous and potentially therapeutic ligands modulate cellular processes, with a focus on drug discovery.

An artistic Interpretation of the endocannabinoid system network in a cell (by Mark Rau)

Our group works on cannabinoid CB2 receptor ligands (recent example), endocannabinoid transport and the hemporessin-like peptide endocannabinoids, the Pepcans, which were recently identified. We use chemical biology to address pharmacological questions as well as basic research related to lipid signaling within the arachidonic acid network. Using LC-MS/MS and GC-MS in our laboratory we are interested in metabolic signaling networks in immune processes. Our group has a strong interest in natural products as chemical scaffolds to manipulate specific biochemical pathways. Within the NCCR TransCure we develop novel endocannabinoid transport and FAAH inhibitors and are interested in mechanisms of endocannabinoid transport. We collaborate on research questions related to membrane transporters in disease and biological systems, with a focus on translational research.

In order to download PDF files of all papers go to researchgate

Selected papers

Science Advances 2018; Vol. 4, no. 10, eaat2166. Unovering the psychoactivity of a cannabinoid from liverworts associated with a legal high. Chicca A, Schafroth M, Reynoso-Moreno I, Erni E, Petrucci V, Carreira EM, Gertsch J.

Med Cannabis Cannabinoids 2018;1:60–64. The intricate influence of the placebo effect on medical cannabis and cannabinoids. J. Gertsch (online click here)

Front. Mol. Neurosci., 2018 | doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2018.00180. The endocannabinoid reuptake inhibitor WOBE437 is orally bioavailable and exerts indirect polypharmacological effects via different endocannabinoid receptors. Reynoso-Moreno I, Chicca A, Flores-Soto, M, Viveros-Paredes JM, Gertsch, J.

Scientific Reports, 2017, 7(1):9560. Pepcan-12 (RVD-hemopressin) is a CB2 receptor positive allosteric modulator constitutively excreted from adrenals and in liver upon tissue damage. Petrucci V, Chicca A, Glasmacher S, Paloczi J, Cao Z, Pacher P, Gertsch J.

PNAS, 2017, 114(25):E5006-E5015. Chemical probes to potently and selectively inhibit endocannabinoid reuptake. Chicca A, Nicolussi S, Bartholomäus R, Blunder M, Aparisi Rey A, Petrucci V, Reynoso-Moreno IDC, Viveros-Paredes JM, Dalghi Gens M, Lutz B, Schiöth HB, Soeberdt M, Abels C, Charles RP, Altmann KH, Gertsch J.

Nature Communications, 2017, 3;8:13958. Cannabinoid CB2 receptor ligand profiling reveals biased signalling and off-target activity. Soethoudt M, ... Di Marzo V, Gertsch J, Lichtman AH, Maccarrone M,Pacher P, Glass M, van der Stelt M.

Scientific Reports, 2017, 7:41177. Targeted metabolomics shows plasticity in the evolution of signaling lipids and uncovers old and new endocannabinoids in the plant kingdom. Gachet MS, Schubert, A, Calarco S, Boccard J, Gertsch J.

Brit J Pharmacol 2016, in press Cannabimimetic phytochemicals in the dieta - an evolutionary link to food selection and metabolic stress adaptation? Gertsch J.

Journal of Leukocyte Biology 2016, 99(4):518-2 Lung macrophages high on cannabinoids: jamming PAMs or taming TAMs?  Gertsch J.

Journal of Neuroinflammation 2015, 13;12:89. 4'-O-Methylhonokiol increases levels of 2-arachidonoyl glycerol in mouse brain via selective inhibition of its COX-2-mediated oxygenation. Chicca A, Gachet MS, Petrucci V, Schuehly W, Charles, RP, Gertsch J.

Vitam Horm. 2015, 98:441-85. Endocannabinoid Transport Revisited. Nicolussi S, Gertsch J.

Neuropharmacology 2015, 98:78-89. Localization and production of peptide endocannabinoids in the rodent CNS and adrenal medulla. Hofer SC, Ralvenius WT, Gachet MS, Fritschy JM, Zeilhofer HU, Gertsch J.

J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life. 2015, 976-977:6-18. A quantitative LC-MS/MS method for the measurement of arachidonic acid, prostanoids, N-acylethanolamines and steroids in human plasma. Gachet MS, Rhyn P, Bosch OG, Quednow BB, Gertsch J.

Biochem Pharmacol. 2014, 92, 669-689. Correlating FAAH and anandamide cellular uptake inhibition using N-alkylcarbamate inhibitors: From ultrapotent to hyperpotent. Nicolussi S, Chicca, A, Rau M. Rhis, S, Soeberdt M, Abels, C, Gertsch J.

ACS Chem. Biol. 2014, 9, 1499-507. Functionalization of β-caryophyllene generates novel polypharmacology in the endocannabinoid system. Chicca A, Caprioglio D, Minassi, A Petrucci V, Appendino G Taglialatela-Scafati O, Gertsch J.

Pharmacol. Res. 2014, 80, 52-65. Guineensine is a novel inhibitor of endocannabinoid uptake showing cannabimimetic behavioral effects in BALB/c mice. Nicolussi S, Viveros Paredes JM, Gachet MS, Rau M, Flores-Soto ME, Blunder M, Gertsch J.








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