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Research Area B: Principles of immunity, inflammation and infection


AG Prof. Dr. Stephan Baldus / Dr. Martin Mollenhauer / Prof. Dr. Volker Rudolph

· Inflammatory pathways propagating ventricular tachycardia - the role of myeloperoxidase for postischemic pro-arrhythmic remodeling

Ventricular tachycardia after ischemic heart disease is a major cause of mortality in western countries with sparse treatment options. This study investigates the importance of the leukocyte derived enzyme myeloperoxidase (MPO) for ventricular pro-arrhythmic remodeling following myocardial infarction in mice.We now could show that MPO contributes to the development of induced and spontaneous ventricular tachycardias (VT) by disrupting the homogenous ventricular conduction in two murine models of ischemic cardiomyopathy.

stephan.baldusSpamProtectionuk-koeln.de, volker.rudolph@uk-koeln.de, martin.mollenhauerSpamProtectionuk-koeln.de


AG Prof. Dr. Oliver A Cornely

· Antigen reactive CD69+/CD154+/CD4+ T Cells for Cell mediated Immunity in Infectious Diseases - TCI – ID

Invasive fungal infections are associated with high morbidity and mortality in immunosuppressed and immunocompetent patients. With the development of new diagnostic tools, we want to overcome the problem of false negative standard diagnostics to facilitate targeted treatment and thus improve patient outcome.We receive patient samples from multiple sites in Germany through our FungiResearch network (http://fungiresearch.uni-koeln.de) and act as the lab of the European Excellence Center of Medical Mycology (https://www.ecmm.info).



AG Prof. Dr. Claus Cursiefen / Dr. Felix Bock / Dr. Dr. Deniz Hos

· Novel therapeutic role of myeloid cell-derived VEGF-C and lymphangiogenesis in resolution of corneal inflammation and reestablishment of corneal transparency

Corneal lymphangiogenesis and activated myeloid cells are important mediators of corneal allograft rejection. Recently, we could also demonstrate an unexpected beneficial effect of immunomodulatory myeloid cells on the resolution of corneal inflammation. We wanted gain deeper insight into the interplay between pro(lymph)angiogenic signals, myeloid cells, and the corneal microenvironment to modulate sight-threatening corneal inflammation.

claus.cursiefenSpamProtectionuk-koeln.de, felix.bockSpamProtectionuk-koeln.de, deniz.hosSpamProtectionuk-koeln.de


AG Prof. Dr. Ludwig Eichinger

· Functional analysis of p97/VCP and its interaction partners

p97 is evolutionarily highly conserved and it has been shown that p97 missense mutation can cause five human neurodegenerative disorders. We are interested in the functional consequences of selected p97 point mutation, the identification of novel p97 interaction partners and the regulation of p97 functions by individual members of the large family of UBX domain containing proteins.



AG Prof. Dr. Mario Fabri

· Glucocorticoid regulation of cutaneous Th17 host responses

Glucocorticoids (GC) are frequently used to suppress undesired inflammation in such conditions. Interestingly, Th17 persistence under GC therapy is not uncommon, which is often explained by a GC-refractory character of these cells. Several studies reported however increased serum levels of IL-17 and circulating Th17 cells in GC-treated compared to GC-untreated patients, which cannot be explained by GC insensitivity, but rather implies a stimulatory effect of GCs on Th17 responses. In this project, we are investigating whether GC are able to induce human Th17 cells and the potential mechanisms involved.



AG Dr. Jan Herter

CD4 T cell reactivation in peripheral tissues

The overall aim of our group is investigating the reactivation of lymphocytes in non-lymphoid tissue: following lymphocyte priming, effector T cell recruit to peripheral tissues to fulfil both helper and executive functions. Our goal is to better understand the molecular mechanisms driving this process, to identify and characterize cellular interactions involved and to further understand microenvironmental cues modulating the functional restimulation of lymphocytes in peripheral tissue.



AG Dr. rer. nat. Grit Herter-Sprie

· Harnessing CDK4/6 inhibition to promote T cell-mediated anti-tumor immunity

Most recently multiple promising approaches, reigniting a patient´s own adaptive anti-tumor immunity, fueled hope to identify novel treatment regimens for this aggressive tumor. Here, we will employ highly predictive in vivo models for most efficient bench-to-bedside translation of multimodal anticancer therapy consisting of CDK4/6 inhibition, radiation therapy, and immune checkpoint inhibition.



AG Dr. Dr. Deniz Hos

· The contribution of myeloid cells to corneal neovascular disease

This project aims to investigate the functional relationship between myeloid cells and corneal neovascularization in various clinically relevant neovascular disease models in mice.



AG Prof. Dr. Hamid Kashkar

· The role of mitochondrial apoptosis in macrophages and macrophage-derived tumor-promoting inflammation

We aim to decipher how mitochondria regulate death and inflammatory signalling and impact on cancer and infectious diseases.



AG Prof. Dr. Florian Klein

· Antibody-mediated therapy and prevention of infectious pathogens

We are interested in the antibody response to HIV-1 and other infectious pathogens. We aim to precisely understand the biology of humoral immunity and to use this knowledge to effectively prevent and treat infectious diseases.



AG Prof. Dr. Thomas Langmann

· Modulation of microglia as novel therapy concept for blinding diseases

A chronic pro-inflammatory environment and reactive microglia are hallmarks of retinal degenerative diseases that affect vision. Our project aims at interventions overriding microglial pro-inflammatory and pro-oxidative properties to attenuate photoreceptor demise and preserve retinal integrity.



AG Prof. Dr. Helmar Lehmann

· Mechanisms of axonal injury in neuroinflammation and neurotoxicity

Permanent neurological deficits in inflammatory and toxic neuropathic conditions are closely related to the degree of axonal injury. The underlying pathomechanisms that link endoneural inflammation and toxicity to axonal degeneration are incompletely understood. Our group aims to define the reciprocal interactions of endoneural inflammation and toxic compounds to axonal injury and to translate these findings into new therapeutic approaches in pre-clinical and early clinical studies.



AG Prof. Dr. Argyris Papantonis

· Towards a structure-to-function code for mammalian genomes

Our work on the connection between 3D chromatin folding and transcriptional organization focuses on either proinflammatory signaling, or on the onset and establishment of cellular senescence. These two processes share physiological and molecular commonalities, and their dissection will offer both a chance to identify novel effectors and potential therapeutic targets, and a deeper understanding of the 3D structure-to-function code of the human genome that still remains a challenge.



AG Dr. Hans A Schlößer

· Tumor-specific endogenous immune response and immune escape in gastrointestinal Cancer

Our research has immediate translational relevance as endogenous immune response is probably the most relevant factor determining success or failure of emerging immunotherapies.



AG Prof. Dr. Björn Schumacher / Dr. Ashley Williams

· Chronic inflammatory responses to persistent cytoplasmic DNA

Chronic inflammation plays a causal role in aging-associated diseases ranging from arteriosclerosis, the development of cancer to neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s disease. Understanding the mechanisms through which chronic inflammation causes diseases is an important prerequisite to battle age-related pathologies. Given the complexity of the human immune system we sought to establish the simple metazoan Caenorhabditis elegans as model system for gaining new insight into the mechanisms of inflammatory-like conditions.



AG Prof. Dr. Esther von Stebut-Borschitz

· Skin immune defense mechanisms against cutaneous leishmaniasis

Our lab focuses on studying the immune defense mechanisms against murine and human cutaneous leishmaniasis, initiated by infections with the protozoan parasite Leishmania major (L. major). Current projects concentrate on studying the DC subtypes involved in defense mechanisms, the interaction of DC with T cells (antigens recognized, T cell subsets involved), and the role of additional myeloid cells for immune regulation (mast cells, monocytes/macrophages). Finally, using so-called 'humanized mouse models', translation of basic research findings into the clinical setting is central.



AG Prof. Dr. Olaf Utermöhlen

· Pathogenicity of Zika Virus strains in various host cell types

The emergence of Zika virus (ZIKV) in Central America in 2015 coincided with a surge in the incidence of microcephaly. This project aims at characterizing the pathogenicity of ZIKV in neurologically relevant cells. Furthermore, it is still an open question, whether Zika isolates from Africa versus Asia/South America differ in their pathogenicity.