Research foci Infectious Disease Epidemiology

The institute focuses on the development of tools and methods to assess and reduce the burden of infectious diseases. This implies also the evaluation of potential impacts of prevention strategies in the fight against persistent and novel infections. In differentiating between vaccine-induced from infection-induced immune responses, we put special emphasis on viral hepatitis and vaccine-preventable diseases with high disease burdens like influenza and measles. The aim is to develop the differential serology into a pivotal tool to be used reliably in e.g. population-based serological studies like surveys.

Having said this, the institute focuses on the development of novel diagnostic approaches, optimised for epidemiological applications and questions, for example the multiplex serolomics platform. The multiplex approach relies on the Luminex® bead technology thereby allowing the testing for multiple antibodies resulting from different infections within one single assay with a minimal serum consumption.
Accordingly, we are developing a novel multiplex serological test to assess Corona virus-induced immune responses directed against a variety of Sars-CoV-2 specific or related antigens.  The established test system can provide detailed information of the antibody response towards antigens derived from SARS-CoV-2(MULTI_COV-AB), but also towards antigens from endemic coronaviridae OC43, NL63, 229E and HKU1. The multiplex serological assay has the potential to provide high resolution data to assess on population specific serological prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 vs other respiratory viruses, duration of a SARS-CoV-2 protective immune response or SARS-CoV-2 infection susceptibility among study participants.

An advantage of the platform is the high flexibility. This is particularly applicable for the continuous evolution of SARS-CoV-2 and the occurence of new SARS-CoV-2-variants. The  multiplex approach allows for a further development regarding "variants of concern"-related antigens. At present, our antigen panel includes receptor binding domains (RBDs) of Alpha- (B.1.1.7), Beta- (B.1.351), Gamma- (P.1) and Delta-Variants (B.1.617.2) as well as RBDs of Epsilon- (B.1.429), Eta- (B.1.525), Cluster 5- und A.23.1-lines.