Vaccination is the most efficient way to prevent infectious diseases and even to eradicate pathogens, as exemplified by the eradication of the pox virus. Despite these impressive examples of success, it is still unclear why certain vaccines do not induce protection in certain individuals, and why it is so difficult to develop vaccines against some pathogens. Despite the development of new antiviral compounds, the efficient control and eradication of pathogens at the human population level can only be achieved by vaccination. Multidrug resistant bacteria, too, are vulnerable to attacks by the immune system. Therefore, in addition to new antibiotics innovative vaccines are a promising strategy for the treatment of infections with multidrug resistant bacteria.

New adjuvants

Hepatitis B virus vaccination study

Vaccines against the hepatitis V virus are well tolerated and have proven to be particularly efficacious. More than 100 million vaccine doses have applied worldwide. However, 5-10% of the vaccinated people do not mount protective antibody responses. We are studying the molecular basis of this phenomenon.

Efficacy of influenza vaccination

Influenza infection still causes thousands of life-threatening cases of the “flu” among elderly individuals. This is why particularly vaccination against influenza viruses if recommended for the elderly. However, efficacy of this vaccine decreases with advancing age. We are analyzing immune responses to influenza vaccination among elderly individuals in order to understand better mechanisms of vaccine protection in this risk group.

  • Translational case examples: Biomarker für die Grippeschutzimpfung älterer Menschen

Hepatitis C virus vaccine

Effective therapies for treatment and cure of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are available. However, these combination therapies cannot protect from new infections or re-infection of those that have been successfully treated. An HCV vaccine could protect from new HCV infection. However, development of a HCV vaccine is in its infancy, and key features of a protective HCV immune response are not well defined. Thus, we explore essential determinants of a protective immunity against HCV and aim to translate this information into the development of an HCV vaccine.

Shiga-Toxin antiserum

During the 2011 enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) outbreak in North-Germany 855 people developed the hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), of whom 53 people died. Until today there is no causative treatment for this severe infectious disease available. Together with Argentinean partners we develop Shiga toxin antisera for the treatment of infected patients. The objective is that in case of a new outbreak such sera can be used to treat infected individuals.