Chronic viral infections

Chronic viral infections constitute a major clinical challenge. While in the case of infections with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) the pathogen can be easily eliminated by treatment with combination drugs, in case human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections innovative therapies can only control, but not eliminate, the pathogen. Similarly, a lifelong latent infection establishes upon infection with human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) ; under conditions of immune suppression it can reactivate and then cause severe disease. Protective vaccines are available neither for HCV, HIV or HCMV.

Herpes viruses

Infection with the human cytomegaly virus (HCMV) leads to a lifelong latent infection without manifestation of clinical signs of disease. However, when the immune systems is impaired, e.g. after organ transplantation, the virus can reactivate and cause severe disease. We aim to understand how HCMV activates myeloid cells of the immune system, on one hand to enhance viral replication and on the other hand to induce antiviral responses.

Human immunodeficiency virus HIV

Due to the development of highly effective antiretroviral therapy, HIV infections can be relatively well controlled, and treated HIV-1-infected patients can reach an almost normal life expectancy. However, antiretroviral therapy does not eradicate the virus and must be taken life-long. We aim at a better understanding of cell-intrinsic innate immune recognition of HIV-1, and gained knowledge may contribute to the development of strategies for HIV eradication and/or protection.