Susceptibility to infection: how do viruses manage to remain in the body?

The RESIST team is also looking for ways to protect people from herpes viruses and their consequences. These viruses are easily transmitted and persist throughout the host’s lifetime, including a dormant period during which there are no signs of illness. In susceptible individuals they may lead to serious skin conditions such as shingles or herpetic eczema, and can even damage the nervous system. They may also cause cancers such as lymphoma (affecting the lymphatic system), nasopharyngeal carcinoma and Kaposi’s sarcoma.

But how do herpes viruses manage to survive and multiply in the human body? How can new, improved drugs be developed that complement already existing medications? The RESIST team is seeking answers to these questions. Its researchers want to make herpes viruses vulnerable for attack, especially during their dormant stage. The investigated pathogens in Project Area D include the Cytomegalovirus, the Varicella Zoster Virus, the Kaposi Sarcoma Virus and the Herpes Simplex Virus. Moreover, on the site of the host RESIST investigators analye innate immunse senosrs for development of novel therapeutic approaches against infectious and inflammatory diseases.

Projects in area D (viruses)

D1

Which substances can inhibit the multiplication and survival of herpes viruses in the body?

Herpes viruses can cause a number of diseases such as chickenpox, shingles, herpes encephalitis, neonatal infections and Pfeiffer’s glandular fever. They pose a serious threat to susceptible and immunocompromised individuals such as newborns, the elderly, transplant recipients and people with other immunodeficiencies …

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D2

Herpesviral assembly: Which new therapeutic options arise when the process of herpesviral assembly is explored?

While a healthy immune system is able to control herpesviruses, primary and recurrent infections can cause severe disease; particularly very early in life and in the elderly as well as in individuals with increased susceptibility, either due to genetic factors or to immune suppression, e.g., after organ transplantation…

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D3

How do viruses assemble at the single-particle level?

Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a ubiquitous betaherpesvirus of high clinical importance that establishes lifelong latent infection in humans. It is the leading cause of congenital disabilities in the developed world and a significant cause of disease in immunocompromised patients, such as transplant, AIDS, or cancer patients…

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D4

Can we use the modulation of the immunosensors OAS and cGAS for the development of new drugs against infectious and inflammatory diseases?

The innate immune sensors activate interferon-driven antiviral responses upon recognition of pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) and serve as a rheostat for the metabolic activity of the microbiota and its exposure to diet, xenobiotics, and infections…

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D5

Which paths lead to new inhibitors against human adenoviruses?

Human adenoviruses (HAdV) are widespread pathogens of the respiratory tract, digestive tract and urinary tract that cause highly infectious follicular epidemic keratoconjunctivitis, i.e. simultaneous inflammation of the conjunctiva and cornea of the eye, and fatal diseases in immunocompromised individuals. Alarmingly, new types have recently been reported that predominantly affect the lungs and can kill healthy people…

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