Research Foci

Based on challenges of high clinical and societal relevance and the special competencies of its cooperation partners, HZI has established Research Foci (RF), providing a synergistic, dynamic and flexible framework for the programme.

The Research Foci integrate know-how from different areas of HZI’s research, namely from all three Topics, and can thus address research questions using expertise on pathogens, immune systems and anti-infectives. They offer the flexibility to meet new challenges, e.g. by establishing a new Research Focus when a new urgent problem emerges. Within each Research Focus, HZI scientists pursue the transfer of knowledge from the lab to clinical or pharmaceutical application.

Currently, researchers at HZI and its partner institutions cooperate in seven Research Foci addressing the clinically relevant fields of:

Chronic viral infections (CVIR)

Chronic viral infections by hepatitis and herpes viruses are causing a severe global disease burden. Recently, effective treatment for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections has become available, but it is challenging to deliver it to all in need. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) therapies are limited by side effects and viral resistance. Vaccines are still lacking for both HCV and CMV, and the understanding of basic mechanisms of pathogenesis, immune control and viral evasion are incomplete.

RESEARCH FOCUS CVIR dissects principles that are responsible for the establishment of chronic infections with HCV and CMV and studies mechanisms of immune control and viral evasion.

The most important questions for scientists in RF CVIR are:

  • Which viral and cellular factors determine the course of infection and what is their mechanism of action?
  • Which antibody-based mechanisms protect from chronic infections?
  • How do HCV and CMV evade, diminish or exploit these mechanisms?
  • Which vaccination approaches induce protective immunity?

Speaker RF CVIR: Prof Dr Melanie Brinkmann
Deputy Speaker RF CVIR: Prof Dr Dagmar Wirth


Most relevant publications

Chronic viral infections (CVIR)

Zheng,X., Oduro,J.D., Boehme,J.D., Borkner,L., Ebensen,T., Heise,U., Gereke,M., Pils,M., Krmpotic,A., Guzmán,C.A., Bruder,D., Čičin-Šain,L. (2019). Mucosal CD8+ T cell responses induced by an MCMV based vaccine vector confer protection against influenza challenge. PLOS Pathogens 6;15(9):e1008036

Khera,T., Behrendt,P., Bankwitz,D., Brown,R.J.P., Todt,D., Doepke,M., Khan,A.G., Schulze,K., Law,J., Logan,M., Hockman,D., Wong,J.A.J.X., Dold,L., Gonzalez-Motos,V., Spengler,U., Viejo-Borbolla,A., Ströh,L., Krey,T., Tarr,A.W., Steinmann,E., Manns,M.P., Klein,F., Guzmán,C.A., Marcotrigiano,J., Houghton,M., and Pietschmann,T. (2019). Functional and immunogenic characterization of diverse HCV glycoprotein E2 variants. J. Hepatol. 70, 593-602.

Stempel,M., Chan,B., Juranic,L., V, Krmpotic,A., Hartung,J., Paludan,S.R., Fullbrunn,N., Lemmermann,N.A., and Brinkmann,M.M. (2019). The herpesviral antagonist m152 reveals differential activation of STING-dependent IRF and NF-kappaB signaling and STING's dual role during MCMV infection. EMBO J e100983.

Tegtmeyer,P.K., Spanier,J., Borst,K., Becker,J., Riedl,A., Hirche,C., Ghita,L., Skerra,J., Baumann,K., Lienenklaus,S., Doering,M., Ruzsics,Z., and Kalinke,U. (2019). STING induces early IFN-ß in the liver and constrains myeloid cell-mediated dissemination of murine cytomegalovirus. Nat. Commun. 10.

Cebula,M., Riehn,M., Hillebrand,U., Kratzer,R.F., Kreppel,F., Koutsoumpli,G., Daemen,T., Hauser,H., and Wirth,D. (2017). TLR9-Mediated Conditioning of Liver Environment Is Essential for Successful Intrahepatic Immunotherapy and Effective Memory Recall. Mol. Ther.

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