Microbial pathogens

  • Dissecting bacterial infections at the single-cell level

    Left: a macrophage (nucleus in blue) infected with a non-replicating bacteria in yellow indicated by an arrow and on the right infected with bacteria that has replicated (red). (Picture: Antoine-Emmanuel Saliba)

    Technological advances are making the analysis of single bacterial infected human cells feasible, Würzburg researchers have used this technology to provide new insight into the Salmonella infection process. The study has just been published in “Nature Microbiology”. Infectious diseases are a leading cause of mortality worldwide. The development of novel therapies or vaccines requires improved understanding of how viruses, pathogenic fungi or bacteria cause illnesses.

  • Faster diagnosis of sepsis pathogens

    High-throughput sequencing of sepsis pathogens at Fraunhofer IGB. Fraunhofer IGB

    Microbial pathogens can be diagnosed unambiguously and within just 24 hours by means of high-throughput sequencing of their genetic makeup and special bioinformatics evaluation algorithms. Fraunhofer researchers have validated this in a clinical study with sepsis patients. The researchers present the NGS diagnosis platform at Medica in Düsseldorf from November 14–17, 2016. It is estimated that in Germany alone around 150,000 people fall ill with sepsis every year; despite medical advances, between 30 and 50 percent of the patients still die of the consequences. One of the reasons for the high mortality rate: the diagnosis often comes too late for the lifesaving therapy with antibiotics that only combat the specific causative pathogen.

  • 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.

  • New procedure for producing safe and more effective vaccines

    Foto Fraunhofer FEP

    A consortium of four Fraunhofer Institutes (the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI, Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB) is developing a way of inactivating viruses and other pathogens based on low energy electron irradiation. This may aid the manufacture of more effective, safe and also more cost-effective vaccines.

  • 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.

  • Personalized antibiotic treatment

    The electrochemical biosensor system for point-of-care testing. Photo: Andreas Weltin

    Researchers from Freiburg have developed a sensor platform that quantifies antibiotics in human blood within minutes. A team of researchers from the University of Freiburg has developed a system inspired by biology that can detect several different antibiotics in human blood or other fluids at the same time. This biosensor system could be used for medical diagnostics in the future, especially for point-of-care testing in doctors’ practices, on house calls and in pharmacies, as well as in environmental and food safety testing. The researchers focused their study on the antibiotics tetracycline and streptogramin in human blood.

  • Research against antibiotic resistance

    The paper disks have different antibiotics: Antibiotics in the discs in the culture on the left prevent bacteria from proliferating. Bacteria in the culture on the right are resistant to most of the antibiotics.

    The Swiss National Science Foundation is launching the National Research Programme “Antimicrobial Resistance”, which aims to develop new solutions to ensure that antibiotics remain effective. Worldwide, more and more pathogens are becoming resistant to today’s antibiotics. The aim of European Antibiotic Awareness Day on 18 November 2016 is to highlight the fact that medicines are losing their effectiveness as a result and that once easy-to-treat infections are turning into deadly diseases. To counteract this development, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) is launching the National Research Programme “Antimicrobial Resistance” (NRP 72).