Research Group Experimental Infection Research
Our group focuses on the analysis of (i) chronic herpes virus infection, (ii) infection-associated tissue inflammation, and (iii) the development of innovative interventions. For our projects we closely collaborate with physician scientists from the MHH.
CMV coevolved during Millions of years with its specific host. This is why different host species have their own CMV species (e.g. mouse CMV and human CMV) which manage to specifically evade relevant components of the host immunity. As a consequence, after CMV infection the virus is not eliminated but establishes a persistent infection. We want to understand early events in the host reponse against CMV infection andanalyze sensing platforms underlying the triggering of virus-specific immune responses.
On the one hand this is done by using mice devoid of one or several pattern recognition signaling platforms. On the other hand, primary human myeloid cell subsets, of which only a certain proportion is infected with HCMV, is tested with innovative technologies. Furthermore, we aim at understanding the pro- and anti-viral functions of type I IFN and to resolve why only some cells of an overall homogenous cell population are infected and produce type I IFN.
In the field of infection-associated tissue inflammation we aim at understanding local immunological processes that can differ fundatmentally in different organs. In particular dissecting responses mounted by tissue-resident myeloid cells and infiltrating leucocytes in acute viral hepatitis and encephalitis is one of our foci. For this purpose we are useing innovative mouse models, e.g., mice in which brain resident microglia, but not peripheral myeloid cells, are tagged by a fluorescense marker.
Based on the knowledge obtained in the research activities above we develop innovative interventions. Currently we aim at establishing a new approach for cell selective drug delivery in which the compound of interest is encapsulated in glycan-functionalized liposomes (TargoSpheres®) or chitosan coated poly (lactid-co-glycolide) acid (CS-PLGA). Furthermore, the researchers are intrested in identifying the molecular mechanism of HBV vaccination non-responsiveness.