What is this research project about?
Within our research, we are focusing on infections of the lower respiratory tract such as pneumonia, which is still the most communicable disease worldwide. Our research aims to understand the onset of infectious diseases and to establish new therapeutic options based on approaches using regenerative medicine. In our research we use cells from patients, to establish new infection models, which will pave the way for cell-based immunotherapeutic approaches targeting infections of the lower respiratory tract. Our focus is primarily on the macrophages (phagocytes) of the immune system.
What’s the current status?
We have been successful in establishing a plethora of different infection models for bacteria and viruses. Based on this knowledge, we could also achieve the use of newly designed immune cells to combat life-threatening pulmonary infections. As of now, we are aiming to push these findings into the clinics. In particular, we are investigating the role of macrophages (scavenger cells) in the development of and fight against infections. We are using different types of stem cells for this purpose. One of our approaches is to replace the weakened phagocytes with healthy phagocytes from the laboratory, which then offer protection against bacteria or viruses.
How do we get there?
In order to gain insights into the development of lung diseases and to be able to derive therapies from them, we establish different disease models in the laboratory. To do this, we are working in a highly inter-disciplinary environment, in which we combine several disciplines such as infection and regenerative medicine, stem cells and immunity. We are using the framework of RESIST to combine medical scientist with clinician scientist, to pave the development of new innovations and radical new ideas to combat bacterial pneumonia.
The figure shows the development of novel cell culture infection models with patient-specific iPSC immune cells.