Immunology

  • Guards of the human immune system unraveled

    Dendritic cells in lymphatic tissues are mainly influenced by their genetic identity, while in lungs and skin dendritic cells are predominantly affected by tissue-specific factors. © Carla Schaffer / AAAS

    Dendritic cells represent an important component of the immune system: they recognize and engulf invaders, which subsequently triggers a pathogen-specific immune response. Scientists of the University Hospital Erlangen of the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) and the LIMES (Life and Medical Sciences) Institute of the University of Bonn gained substantial knowledge of human dendritic cells, which might contribute to the development of immune therapies in the future. The results were recently published in the Journal “Science Immunology”.

  • Hepatitis C and HIV prophylaxis: microwave reduces viral transmission in the drugs scene

    PD Dr. Eike Steinmann und Anindya Siddharta. TWINCORE/Romy Weller

    Infections with hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) among people who inject drugs (PWID) are a global health problem. For example, sharing of drug preparation equipment within this population contributes to more than 80% of newly acquired HCV infections. As a response to these circumstances, scientists at TWINCORE validated a simple and safe method to reduce the risk of viral transmission, namely by microwave irradiation. This method has been published recently in Scientific Reports.

  • How Does Friendly Fire Happen in the Pancreas?

    Treatment with an antagomir directed against miR92a results in reduced attacks of immune cells (green) on the insulin (white) producing beta cells directly in the pancreas. Moreover, the treatment leads to more regulatory T cells (red) able to protect the beta cells. Source: Helmholtz Zentrum München

    In type 1 diabetes, the body attacks its own insulin-producing cells. Scientists at Helmholtz Zentrum München, partner in the German Center for Diabetes Research, and their colleagues at Technical University of Munich have now reported in the journal ‘PNAS’ about a mechanism used by the immune system to prepare for this attack. They were able to inhibit this process through targeted intervention and are now hoping this will lead to new possibilities for treatment.

  • Immune system reactions elucidated by mathematics

    Bacteria of the species Streptococcus pneumoniae colonising an endothelial cell. HZI/M. Rohde

    Using computer-based simulations and mouse experiments, HZI researchers disentangled the effects of proinflammatory signaling molecules on the post-influenza susceptibility to pneumococcal coinfection. A body infected by the influenza virus is particularly susceptible to other pathogens. Bacteria like Streptococcus pneumoniae, i.e. the pathogen causing pneumonia, find it easy to attack an influenza-modulated immune system and to spread widely. This can even be fatal in some cases. The reasons for the bacterial growth in the presence of a coinfection by influenza virus and bacteria is still debatable.

  • Inflammation Triggers Unsustainable Immune Response to Chronic Viral Infection

    Under the influence of interferons, chronic viral infections cause strong inflammation. This causes the B cells to initiate an inadequate immune response. Department of Biomedicine, University of Basel

    Scientists at the University of Basel discovered a fundamental new mechanism explaining the inadequate immune defense against chronic viral infection. These results may open up new avenues for vaccine development. They have been published in the journal “Science Immunology”.

  • Is an agent used to treat psoriasis aimed at the wrong target?

    Common psoriasis, also called psoriasis vulgaris, is an inflammatory skin disease. Source Helmholtz Zentrum München

    The antibody ustekinumab is in use for treatment of psoriasis since 2009. It inhibits the underlying inflammation by neutralizing certain messengers of the immune system. Researchers at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, the Technical University of Munich and the University of Zurich have now shown in ‘Nature Communications’ that one of these messengers could actually be helpful in battling the illness. Common psoriasis, also called psoriasis vulgaris, is an inflammatory skin disease that is characterized by severely scaling skin in areas ranging from small to palm-sized. The disease is estimated to affect between two and three percent of all Europeans.

  • Multiple Sklerose: Neu entdeckter Signalmechanismus macht T-Zellen pathogen

    Die dendritische Zelle und die T-Zelle bei der Clusterbildung (rechts im Bild); Prof. Dr. Thomas Korn (Technische Universität München)

    Folgenschwere Instruktionen: T-Zellen sind ein wichtiger Teil des Immunsystems. Sie können aber nicht nur Krankheitserreger ausschalten, sondern auch selbst zu einer Gefahr werden. Forscherinnen und Forscher der Technischen Universität München (TUM) und der Universitätsmedizin Mainz haben herausgefunden, wann bestimmte T-Zellen zu krankheitserregenden T-Zellen werden, die mit Multipler Sklerose in Verbindung gebracht werden. Die Ergebnisse erklären, warum bestimmte Behandlungsansätze nicht zuverlässig wirken. Sie sind in der aktuellen Ausgabe von „nature immunology“ veröffentlicht.

  • Münster researchers make ongoing inflammation in the human brain visible

    Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence have visualized inflammation in the brain of mice (l.) and of MS patients (r.). To do so, they labelled specific enzymes (MMPs). Reprinted with permission from Gerwien and Hermann et al., Sci. Transl. Med. 8, 364ra152 (2016) 9 November 2016

    For the first time, Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence (CiM) at Münster University have been able to image ongoing inflammation in the brain of patients suffering from multiple sclerosis. The ultimate aim in biomedical research is the transfer of results from experiments carried out in animals to patients. Researchers at the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence (CiM) at the University of Münster have succeeded in doing so. For the first time, they have been able to image ongoing inflammation in the brain of patients suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS). This involved specialists from different disciplines working together in a unique way over several years, combining immunology, neurology and imaging technologies ranging from microscopy to whole-body imaging.

  • Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs

    Nanoparticles from combustion engines (shown here) can activate viruses that are dormant in in lung tissue.  Source: Helmholtz Zentrum München

    Nanoparticles from combustion engines can activate viruses that are dormant in in lung tissue cells. This is the result of a study by researchers of Helmholtz Zentrum München, a partner in the German Center for Lung Research (DZL), which has now been published in the journal ‘Particle and Fibre Toxicology’.

    To evade the immune system, some viruses hide in cells of their host and persist there. In medical terminology, this state is referred to as a latent infection. If the immune system becomes weakened or if certain conditions change, the viruses become active again, begin to proliferate and destroy the host cell. A team of scientists led by Dr. Tobias Stöger of the Institute of Lung Biology and Prof. Dr. Heiko Adler, deputy head of the research unit Lung Repair and Regeneration at Helmholtz Zentrum München, now report that nanoparticles can also trigger this process.

  • New Regulator of Immune Reaction Discovered

    Raster electron microscope image of human T lymphocytes. Andrea Hellwig (neurobiology)

    Calcium signal in cell nucleus regulates not only many brain functions but also defence reactions of the immune system. Cells of the immune system can distinguish between protein molecules that are "self" and "non-self". For example, if we are exposed to pathogens such as bacteria or viruses that carry foreign molecules on their surface, the body reacts with an immune response. In contrast, cells are "tolerant" of the body's own molecules. This state of unresponsiveness, or anergy, is regulated by a cellular signal, a calcium-controlled switch that was known to control also many brain functions.

  • On track to heal leukaemia

    From left: Dr. Carsten Riether, Dr. Christian M. Schürch and Prof. Adrian F. Ochsenbein in the laboratory  Inselspital, Bern University Hospital

    The first clinical studies for a new type of immunotherapy for leukaemia are beginning at Bern’s Inselspital, Bern University Hospital. Antibodies discovered in the laboratory should inhibit the growth of tumour cells.

    Leukaemia stem cells: they have the ability to renew themselves and are resistant to most current, existing cancer therapies (chemotherapy, radiation, targeted medications). Because the cells are responsible for the development of blood cancer, they also regulate the course of disease. The faster they multiply, the faster the illness progresses.

  • Proteins as an early warning system for type 1 diabetes?

    Please find the caption in the text.

    Certain proteins in the blood of children can predict incipient type 1 diabetes, even before the first symptoms appear. A team of scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, partners in the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD), reported these findings in the ‘Diabetologia’ journal. The work was based on two large studies that are intended to explain the mechanisms behind the development of type 1 diabetes (BABYDIAB and BABYDIET*). The study participants are children who have a first-degree relative with type 1 diabetes and who consequently have an increased risk of developing the disease due to the familial predisposition.

  • Successfully Treating Genetically Determined Autoimmune Enteritis

    Poor to moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma of the stomach. H&E stain.

    Using targeted immunotherapy, doctors have succeeded in curing a type of autoimmune enteritis caused by a recently discovered genetic mutation. This report comes from researchers at the Department of Biomedicine of the University of Basel and University Hospital Basel. Their results raise new possibilities for the management of diarrhea, which is often a side effect of melanoma treatment. Immunodeficiencies can arise due to gene mutations in immune system proteins. As such mutations rarely occur, these immunodeficiencies often go unrecognized or are detected too late for effective treatment. Currently, there are more than 300 different known genetically determined immunodeficiencies, with new examples being described almost every week.

  • Tuberkulose-Erreger suchen sich ihre ökologische Nische

    Globale Verteilung der Tuberkulose-Stämme Linie 4. nach Stucki et al; Nature Genetics; doi:10.1038/ng.3704

    Ein internationales Forscherteam hat von mehreren tausend Tuberkulose-Patienten aus über hundert Ländern Tuberkulose-Erreger isoliert und genetisch untersucht. Die Analyse zeigt: Tuberkulose-Erreger können sich spezifisch in ihre ökologische Nische einpassen. Sogenannte Generalisten verbreiten sich weltweit, Spezialisten hingegen finden sich nur in gewissen Regionen. Diese Erkenntnis könnte die Entwicklung künftiger Impfstoffe weiter erschweren.Tuberkulose (TB) gehört zu den gefährlichsten Infektionen weltweit. Die Behandlung ist teuer und zeitaufwändig, eine wirksame Impfung gibt es bisher nicht. Es existieren unterschiedliche TB-Bakterien-Stämme mit unterschiedlicher regionaler Ausbreitung. Nur die so genannte Linie 4 ist weltweit auf allen Kontinenten vorhanden. Sie ist für die Mehrzahl der 10 Millionen Neuansteckungen und 2 Millionen Toten jährlich verantwortlich.