Innate Immunity and Infection

The moment a pathogen, which has successfully entered the body, is recognized, the body quickly mobilizes its defenses. Interferons are molecules that are counted among the body’s first line of defense. They prevent proliferation and the spread of viruses in the body and serve to alert the immune system. Read here about the different ways we use to try and decode this system, all in an effort to find new approaches to infectious disease prevention and therapy.


Our Research

The interferon system is the first line of defense against infection. It combines the two lines of defense of the body: the innate and the adaptive immune response. Thus, the interferon system is an important factor in the defense against infections. If the interferon system is missing, viruses can replicate and protective immune reactions can not develop properly.

The interferon system triggers an antiviral defense against infecting viruses in the cell. Viral products, such as nucleic acids, are recognized by the cells via pathogen recognition receptors and induces inflammatory cytokines and interferons. The secreted interferons are distributed throughout the body. Other cells respond to this by stimulating certain genes whose proteins act against the viruses, thus preventing the viral replication and spread. In addition, immune cells of the innate immune system is affected. They activate and support the acquired immune response. The specialized immune cells of the acquired immune response eliminate infected cells and rapidly fight against the virus infection. Despite this effective defense system, there are viruses that cause serious illnesses and chronic infections. Viruses have developed strategies to block the interferon or escaping their detection. Regulatory proteins of the interferon system can trigger alternative defense mechanisms are able to protect cells for virus infection. The focus of "Innate Immunity and Infection" group, is to understand how pathogens affect the interferon system, how alternative antiviral defense mechanisms work and how the interferon system triggers the immune response.

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