Focus on Infectious Immunology
Our body is in constant interaction with microbial pathogens that invade the body as pathogens or interact with the immune system as microbiome. Especially individuals with weakened immune systems or under pharmacologically relevant immunosuppression suffer from increased morbidity and mortality due to infectious diseases and an immunological imbalance leading to susceptibility to infections and disturbed pathogen-host interactions.
Primary prevention approaches focus on vaccination and protect against the consequences of vaccine-preventable diseases. In particular, immunocompromised individuals as a particularly vulnerable group can be protected by vaccination. However, it is precisely these individuals who show a reduced or delayed immune response to vaccines. The immune response of the adaptive or acquired immune system to vaccination is based on two pillars: the specific humoral antibody response and the specific cellular response by memory and effector T cells and B cells.
The aim of this research area is to study in detail the immunological mechanisms to vaccine antigens, especially in immunocompromised groups of individuals, such as transplant patients, hemodialysis patients and patients with autoimmune diseases, in order to better understand the mechanisms of the specific immune response and to develop concepts to protect these special risk groups from severe courses of vaccine-preventable diseases.
Focus on Inflammation Research
T-cell mediated autoimmune diseases are characterized by a dysbalance of immunological tolerance mechanisms centrally in the thymus or in the periphery. The lack of control of autoimmune mechanisms, e.g. by regulatory T cells (Treg), leads to an amplification of proinflammatory effector T cell mechanisms, such as the induction of interleukin-17-producing T helper cells (Th17).
As a result, inflammatory organ dysfunction occurs. Immunomodulatory therapies with monoclonal antibodies and receptor molecules, especially against cytokines and costimulatory processes, and modern concepts with small molecules, such as Janus kinase inhibitors, can positively influence inflammatory processes in the context of autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and chronic inflammatory bowel disease.
The goal of this research area is to investigate the immunopathogenesis of T cell-mediated autoimmune diseases in order to better understand the underlying mechanisms, such as T cell dysbalance and breakthrough of tolerance mechanisms, and to identify new therapeutic targets. The molecular mechanisms, including those at the epigenetic level, as well as the signal transduction pathways within the inflammatory cell and during antigen presentation will be studied using modern sequencing tools.
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Kinderklinik und Poliklinik des Universitätsklinikums und der Bayerischen Julius-Maximilians-Universität | Josef-Schneider-Straße 2 | Haus D31 | 97080 Würzburg | Deutschland