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ImmunoSensation - the immune sensory system

Stem cells organize themselves to form embryoid

December 17, 2021


New insights into stem cell development in mice could enable an alternative to animal experiments in the future
Researchers of the Cluster of Excellence in cooperation with an international team have developed a method to generate embryo-like cell complexes from the stem cells of mice. The method provides new insights into embryonic development. In the medium term, it might also be suitable for developing tests for substances that could be harmful to fertility. The study has recently been published in Nature Communications.


Prof. Mass selected as EMBO Young Investigator junior scientist

December 08, 2021


Member of the Cluster of Excellence, Prof. Elvira Mass, joins the EMBO YIP Network in January 2022
Prof. Elvira Mass, developmental biologist at the LIMES Institute of the University of Bonn and member of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2, will join the EMBO Young Investigator Program on 01.01.2022. The program supports selected young European scientists with outstanding achievements in the field of life sciences. The award is linked to a financial support of 15,000 €, which can be extended by up to 10,000 € per year. Prof. Elvira Mass and her team study the development and function of resident macrophages - phagocytes that are present in almost every tissue and, as part of the innate immune system, are an important part of the body's defense system.


CRC for Brown and Beige Fat Organ Crosstalk, Signaling and Energetics

November 26, 2021


Prof. Dr. med. Alexander Pfeifer becomes speaker of the newly founded Collaborative Research Center for Brown and Beige Fat Organ Crosstalk, Signaling and Energetics

Worldwide, the number of overweight and obese patients is increasing, and consequently diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Obesity is also a risk factor for developing severe Covid19. In the Transregional Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) 333 "Brown and Beige Fat Organ Crosstalk, Signaling and Energetics ( BATenergy)", researchers from the University of Bonn and the University Hospital Bonn, the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Helmholtz Zentrum München are investigating different types of adipose tissue and their role in metabolic diseases. As speaker of the CRC, Prof. Dr. med. Alexander Pfeifer, member of the Cluster of Excellence and head of the institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University Clinics Bonn, was appointed.


Abemaciclib inhibits kinases involved in transcriptional regulation

November 18, 2021


Protein structures of Homeodomain-interacting protein kinase (HIPK) and dual-specificity tyrosine phosphorylation-regulated kinases (DYRK) reveals abemaciclib as potent inhibitor

Abemaciclib is a widely used drug in the therapy of hormone-receptor positive (HR-positive) and human epidermal growth factor receptor negative (HER2-negative) advanced breast cancer. The drug functions as a direct inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinases 4 and 6 (Cdk4/Cdk6). Both kinases are responsible for the deactivation of retinoblastoma protein (Rb) by phosphorylation. Until its deactivation, Rb prevents cell cycle progression. The defective functionality of Rb in several major cancers leads to extensive cell growth and tumor progression. Direct targeting and inactivation of Cdk4/Cdk6 by abemaciclib prevents Rb deactivation and reduces therefore oncogenic cell proliferation.

Prof. Matthias Geyer, Director of the Institute of Structural Biology and member of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2 at the University Clinics Bonn, and his team now show that abemaciclib also acts as potent inhibitor of further kinases involved in transcriptional regulation. In collaboration with the team of Prof. Nathanael Gray from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School, Boston, the scientists found Homeodomain-interacting protein kinases (HIPKs) and dual-specificity tyrosine phosphorylation-regulated kinases (DYRKs) to be inhibitable by abemaciclib. Both proteins are auto-activated and supposed to directly act in transcriptional regulation, as recombinant HIPKs and DYRK1A phosphorylate the negative elongation factor SPT5, the transcription factor c-Myc, and the C-terminal domain of RNA polymerase II.


Cerebral dysfunctions caused by sepsis during aging

November 18, 2021


A differentiated look at the relationship between sepsis and acute cerebral dysfunction
Sepsis occurs when the body's own immune reactions against an infection inflicts damage to its own organs and tissues.  Such systemic inflammation is a life-threatening condition and one of the most severe complications of infectious diseases. It may be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites.
Systemic inflammations caused by Sepsis may induce an acute cerebral dysfunction known as sepsis- associated encephalopathy (SAE). Recent data from intensive care units show, that half of all patients with sepsis also develop SAE. Patients surviving a sepsis show an increased prevalence of sustained cognitive impairments for several years after initial sepsis onset.


Development of retinal disease closely linked to intestinal flora

November 16, 2021


Study on the role of intestinal flora, metabolism and immune defense in Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) receives research award
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the main cause of blindness and severe visual impairment at old age in Germany and throughout Europe. Prof. Zeinab Abdullah, member of the Cluster of Excellence and group leader at the Institute of Molecular Medicine & Experimental Immunology of the University Clinics Bonn and Prof. Robert Finger from the University Hospital Bonn are taking a closer look at immune mechanisms in AMD. The researchers investigate the interactions of intestinal flora, metabolism and immune defense. Prof. Abdullah and Prof. Finger have now received the EURETINA Medical Retina Clinical Research Award 2021 for their research project at the University of Bonn, which is endowed with 293,000 €.


Prof. Tobias Bald awarded with the Lisec-Artz Prize

November 11, 2021


Tobias Bald and Sebastian Kobold receive research award for their work on Tumor Immunobiology at the Cluster Science Days 2021
Professor Bald heads the research group „Tumor Immunobiology” as part of the Cluster of Excellence „ImmunoSensation2“, and is a member of the Transdisciplinary Research Area (TRA) "Life and Health“, both at the University of Bonn. He is now awarded with the Lisec-Artz price for his contributions to better understand the interactions between cancer cells and immune cells. His research focus is set on the role of the T-cell activating receptor CD226 during this interaction, with the goal to significantly improve cancer immunotherapy.


Artificial Intelligence helps diagnose Leukemia

November 04, 2021


Software trained with more than 30.000 data sets from B-Cell Lymphoma patients

Already in 2020, Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2 Member Prof. Dr. Peter Krawitz and his team showed, how artificial Intelligence can help in the diagnosis of lymphomas and leukemias. The machine learning method developed by the scientists has since been further developed. It is made freely accessible and may be utilized also by smaller laboratories. The respective study has now been published in "Patterns".


Epigenetics: Immunization is passed on to offspring

October 18, 2021


Adaptations to infection shown to be passed on over several generations in mice

Does an infection affect the immunity of subsequent generations? Prof. Andeas Schlitzer, member of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2 and the Life & Medical Sciences Institute (LIMES) at the University of Bonn, Prof. Dr. Mihai G. Netea
from Radboud University (Netherlands), together with researchers from Saarland University, Lausanne (Switzerland) and Athens (Greece), have investigated this. Mouse sires that either had previously overcome infection with fungi or were stimulated with fungal substances, passed on their improved protection over several generations. The team simultaneously demonstrated an improved immune response that was passed on to the offspring. The study has now been published in Nature Immunology.


"Open doors" at the Institute of Structural Biology

October 05, 2021


TV show “Sendung mit der Maus” visits the lab of Prof. Matthias Geyer, Member of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2

It all started with a curious orange mouse in the TV children’s program “Sendung mit der Maus”, explaining how toothpaste is produced, why leaves change color in fall and for which reason the sky is blue. Ten years ago, in 2011, the curiosity of children and parents to look behind doors that usually remain closed to the public resulted in a campaign of “open doors with the mouse”. Once every year, institutes, laboratories and companies offer visits on-sight, explain what their daily work is all about and how they aim to shape the future.


Patent-Prize awarded for programing of stem cells into Photoreceptors

October 04, 2021


Discovery and utilization of three different transcription factors enables the directed differentiation of human stem cells into photoreceptors

Prof. Volker Busskamp, Member of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2, is awarded with the Patent-Prize of the German Ophthalmological Society for his work on photoreceptors. The Biotechnologist and his team developed a technology, which allows the rapid programming of human stem cells to become photoreceptors. The resulting cells are used in retinal research and shall serve in clinical application to treat blindness in the near future.


Immune cells in the brain share the work

September 22, 2021


Microglial cells join together to better cope with threats

To break down toxic proteins more quickly, immune cells in the brain can join together to form networks when needed. This is shown by a joint study of the University of Bonn, the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and the Institut François Jacob in France. However, in certain mutations that can cause Parkinson's disease, this cooperation is impaired. The findings are published in the renowned journal Cell.


'Falling Walls' Award for Nanobodies targeting Corona virus

September 15, 2021


Cluster Member Florian Schmidt receives ‘Falling Walls’ award in the category Life Sciences for the development of a novel drug for Covid-19 therapy

In early 2020, Florian Schmidt and Paul-Albert König at the University Hospital Bonn and an international team of researchers developed a special kind of antibody against SARS-CoV-2 with strong potential for therapeutic use. Today, the cluster scientists and their international team are recognized for their groundbreaking success. A success that would not have been possible without the help of an alpaca and a llama


Impaired function of white blood cells in severe COVID-19 courses

September 13, 2021


Members of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2 and a team of international scientists find persistent dysfunction of Natural Killer cells in severe COVID-19 courses

The acute respiratory syndrome COVID-19, caused by coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), emerged in late 2019. Since then, a comprehensive understanding of both the virus itself and the respective host immune-response has rapidly been gained. Recent studies suggest a specific form of white immune cells, natural killer (NK) cells, to play a crucial role in the early antiviral immune response. But to what extend do NK cells contribute to the pathogenesis of severe COVID-19 infections? In a multicenter study, Scientists from the Cluster of Excellence Immunosensation2, located at the University Hospital Bonn and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), together with an international team, have now been able to investigate the role of NK cells in the progression of COVID-19 in detail.


How danger signaling is amplified in Influenza A-virus infected cells

September 03, 2021


Young research goup around Cluster Member Stephanie Jung shows how danger signaling is amplified in Influenza A-virus infected cells.

Influenza virus-induced acute respiratory infections occur in all parts of the world and represent a constant disease-burden. While the seasonal epidemic outbreaks are caused by Influenza-subtypes A and B, only Influenza-A strains are reported to have caused pandemic spreads. Overall, Influenza-A infections account for 250,000 to 300,000 deaths p.a.

To protect us from microbial threats, the innate immune system provides several immune sensing receptors. These recognize foreign microbial molecules and induce an immunological response. RNA-viruses like Influenza-A and Hepatitis-C are detected by the intracellular receptor RIG-I (retinoic acid inducible gene I). RIG-I binds to double-stranded viral RNA and hairpin structures of viral genomes. Upon activation, the receptor multimerizes and ultimately induces the cellular release of antiviral cytokines.


Mathematics meets Life Sciences - Joint symposium

September 01, 2021


The tremendous advances made in experimental life sciences in recent years provide a wealth of data on how organisms function. To gain biomedical knowledge from these data, both mathematical modeling and numerical analysis techniques in conjunction with experimental data are essential. At a joint symposium of the Clusters of Excellence Hausdorff Center for Mathematics and ImmunoSensation2 as well as the Transdisciplinary Research Areas "Modelling" and "Life and Health" of the University of Bonn, the professors working at the interfaces and their colleagues presented their research and invited to participate.


What factors impact the spread of viruses?

August 23, 2021


German Research Foundation funds transdisciplinary project by researchers at the University of Bonn with 270,000 euros.

Many different factors are responsible for the spread of infectious diseases. What is known is that the spread process depends essentially on the infectiousness of the pathogen and the immune response of the host, but also on human behavior. This relates, for example, to the extent to which distance regulations are observed. Less often considered, however, is the fact that the factors and their influence can vary greatly between groups of people - both at the biomedical and socioeconomic levels. Mathematicians, physicians and economists now want to take a closer look at this so-called inter-individual variability in a joint collaboration project of the University of Bonn and the University Hospital Munich. The goal is to determine new factors that are relevant for the transmission or containment of SARS-CoV-2 viruses. The German Research Foundation (DFG) is funding the project with several hundred thousand euros, of which 270,000 euros will go to Bonn.


Exciting science in the center of Cologne

August 13, 2021


On August 21, female scientists from the universities of Bonn, Cologne and Düsseldorf will talk at the Rudolfplatz
Think "outside the box" is often the phrase used to describe leaving your old thinking habits behind and getting creative. This is exactly what scientists from the universities of Cologne, Bonn and Düsseldorf will be doing on August 21, starting at 2 p.m. on Cologne's Rudolfplatz: Standing on a "soap box," they want to inspire the general public with their research topics. They have previously learned in a workshop how to do this without technical aids, PowerPoint presentations or lecture halls. All citizens are invited to learn about exciting science from the world of immunology, aging and plant research in a relaxed atmosphere. The lectures will be held mostly in German and partly in English. Participation is free of charge.


Novel method for fast 3D microscopy

July 28, 2021


A team of scientists from the University of Bonn and the research center caesar develop a method to observe fast movements in 3D
In the past, many discoveries have been made because better, more accurate measurement methods have become available, making it possible to obtain data from previously unexplored phenomena. For example, high-resolution microscopy has begun to dramatically change our perspectives of cell function and dynamics. Researchers at the ImmunoSensation2 Cluster of Excellence at the University of Bonn, the University Hospital and the research center caesar have now develop a method that allows using multi-focal images to reconstruct the movement of fast biological processes in 3D. The study has been recently published in the journal Nature Communications.


Funding in the millions to combat river blindness

July 19, 2021


University of Bonn receives grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for artificial intelligence project
The Institute of Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology at the University of Bonn is the recipient of a $1.48 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Together with the international IT consultancy Capgemini and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) in Geneva, researchers are developing technology to better combat river blindness, which is caused by parasitic worms. Artificial intelligence will be used to machine-read sections of worm nodules in tissue, enabling drug testing to be standardized and significantly accelerated.