Category Archives: Hard Science

Immunotherapy: Highly priced cure for a Lucky Few…

“It´s revolutionary, prohibitively expensive, and in frustratingly short supply, but for a Lucky Few, an immunotherapy drug is their miracle CURE “ – This is how the August 20, 2016 GoodWeekend journal´s (1) cover looked like in Melbourne, Australia, exactly the week when the International Conference of Immunology (ICI) took place in the same city and gathered more than 4000 clinicians, scientist, students to discuss … Continue reading Immunotherapy: Highly priced cure for a Lucky Few… »

Now on stage: NLRP3 and the molecular mechanisms behind atherosclerosis

The blog goes multimedia: with their film “What is NLRP3 and why do we care?” four PhD students from the Institute of Innate Immunity (Bonn) feature what their research is about. The research group around Prof. Eicke Latz wants to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms behind diseases like atherosclerosis, gout or Alzheimer´s disease. In all of these diseases the protein NLRP3 (NACHT, LRR and … Continue reading Now on stage: NLRP3 and the molecular mechanisms behind atherosclerosis »

Immune Checkpoint Blockade: A milestone on the way to cure cancer

For a scientist, one of the most exciting things to happen is when basic principles established in laboratory models lead to new therapeutic approaches for humans. Most recently, the understanding of several checkpoints in T cell self-tolerance, infection and transplantation led to the development of immune checkpoint blockade to treat cancer. The use of drugs blocking specific checkpoints, such as Programmed Death 1 (PD-1) and … Continue reading Immune Checkpoint Blockade: A milestone on the way to cure cancer »

Neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s Disease

People with dementia start to forget and often show changes in their abilities and personality. Over time the failure of short-term memory gradually turns into confusion about time and place, which may turn to depression or even aggressive behavior in later stages. In principle, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is an advanced stage of dementia that gets progressively worse over time. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for around 50-70% … Continue reading Neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s Disease »

A “Natural Killer’s“ Memory – Lifting the veil on memory cells developed by the innate immune system

For a very long period of time scientists focused on the adaptive immune system when looking for evidence of cells reacting towards a certain molecule or another specific stimulus. Today it is common knowledge that the adaptive immune system generates long-lived memory T cells that protect us from viral infection, the spread of mutated cells and invading pathogens. In contrast, Natural Killer (NK) cells were … Continue reading A “Natural Killer’s“ Memory – Lifting the veil on memory cells developed by the innate immune system »

It’s Carnival! Memories of a party with eukaryotes, prokaryotes and viruses

This week, Dr. Daniel Unterweger  invites you to temporarily escape the usual world of immunology. Daniel completed his PhD in Bacteriology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and continues his research on microbes as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Oxford, UK. Sharing his passion for the microbial world, he sends us a blog post just in time for Carnival.   … Continue reading It’s Carnival! Memories of a party with eukaryotes, prokaryotes and viruses »

Fighting Neglected Diseases: Killing the worm’s best friend

Around three billion people – almost 40% of the world’s population – suffer from so-called “neglected diseases” such as tuberculosis and Dengue fever. Too little is being done in the fight against neglected diseases, which primarily occur in poor countries. Diagnostics, medication and vaccines either do not exist or are outdated and unsuitable for use in areas with poor infrastructure. Research funding for improving treatment … Continue reading Fighting Neglected Diseases: Killing the worm’s best friend »

Unveiling the identity of a “super-immune stimulatory” DNA

It has long been known that recognition of microbial DNA in the cytosol induces an antiviral type I interferon immune response. However, until recently, only long double-stranded DNA had been considered as immune stimulatory. Thus, it has remained unclear whether other structural features than base paired DNA stretches are crucial for activation of cytosolic DNA sensors, and if for example single-stranded reverse transcripts of lentiviruses … Continue reading Unveiling the identity of a “super-immune stimulatory” DNA »

Strategies to recognize microbes – A view onto nucleic acid sensors

Several research groups within the ImmunoSensation Cluster of Excellence have been involved in the identification and characterization of pattern-recognition receptors and their ligands. Recently, Prof. Veit Hornung from the Institute of Molecular Medicine created a graphical overview of the pathways and their signaling molecules involved in nucleic acid recognition published in the Immunity SnapShot series Nucleic Acid Immune Sensors Part 1 and Part 2.  Here, … Continue reading Strategies to recognize microbes – A view onto nucleic acid sensors »

Recognizing the invaders – recognition of hybrids by the innate immune system

Within their publication “Cytosolic RNA:DNA hybrids activate the cGAS – STING axis“ (EMBO Journal 33, 2937-46 (2014)) Mankan et al. showed that hybrids of RNA and DNA are able to activate the cytosolic DNA sensor cGAS and thus induce a type I Interferon response. We interviewed Arun Mankan, who is a Postdoc at the Institute of Molecular Medicine, about his work on RNA:DNA hybrids.   Arun, … Continue reading Recognizing the invaders – recognition of hybrids by the innate immune system »