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The complex and intriguing interactions between human pathogenic viruses and the different components of the immune system are poorly understood. Important aspects of our research are the strategies by which viruses evade the immune defence (immune evasion) and the virus-induced immune responses that lead to organ and tissue damage in the organism (immunopathogenesis). Results from this line of research will not only help to understand viral disease. In fact we can learn from viruses how to prevent unwanted immune responses in patients. Over the long term this learning process will lead to novel immunomodulatory therapies in transplant medi-cine and for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. Finally, detailed knowledge of the interactions between viruses and the immune system is essential for the development of better vaccines.
Viral immune evasion
One scientific focus of the group is the viral immune evasion mechanisms of human herpes viruses. These pathogens are spread worldwide, infecting most of the human race and are therefore of great importance in human medicine. They cause many known infectious diseases, such as herpes labialis, chickenpox and herpes zoster. In immunocompromised persons herpes viruses can cause dangerous symptoms and therefore represent an increasing problem in transplant medicine
Another focus is the study of virus-induced immune responses after infection with pathogenic hantaviruses. These pathogens can be transmitted from animals to humans and thus cause illness involving the lungs, heart and kidney. In Germany an increasing spread of Hantavirus-associated disease has been observed.