University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
Hochhaus am Augustusplatz
Obere Zahlbacherstr. 67
D - 55131 Mainz
Our key expertise is in the area of host-pathogen interactions and the mechanisms that activate and regulate the infection-induced immune response. We focus on the development of novel vaccination strategies by targeting the function of dendritic cells/regulatory T cells and study the role of immune cell subsets in bacterial and viral infections. More recently, we concentrate on the modulation of the immune response during infection and inflammation using small molecular compounds that target the metabolism of specific immune cells.
In the recent years we contributed to a better understanding of specific innate signaling pathways in myeloid cell types such as macrophages and dendritic cells (DC) for the induction host resistance in chronic systemic infections, but also during bacterial infections of the lung and the gastrointestinal tract. This is in line with our strategies to improve the outcome of vaccinations by more efficient antigen targeting to DC via the human DC-specific receptor DC-SIGN and the specific targeting of regulatory T cells. An important achievement was the discovery of the immune-modulatory potential of the small molecular compound Soraphen A and the description of a novel metabolic pathway that directs the development of inflammatory versus anti-inflammatory T cell subsets. In a unique example of preclinical drug development, Soraphen A was further developed in close cooperation between TWINCORE, HZI and HIPS and is evaluated as a potential therapeutic in infection and inflammation.
This work is complemented by our ongoing research on several additional small molecules together with international cooperation partners as well as HZI, DZIF, HIPS and LUH, that will result in the description and exploitation of novel molecular targets for specific modulation of DC and T cell function in infection and inflammation.