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ImmunoSensation - the immune sensory system

New insight into NLRP3-PYD filament formation

May 13, 2022


highly polar interface residues enable homomeric interaction of NLRP3-PYD filament
The inflammasome complex is able to sense intrinsic and extrinsic danger signals. Its activation induces an inflammatory response and pyroptotic cell death. Cluster Member Prof. Matthias Geyer and his team, together with colleagues from the University of Cologne, were now able to assign a directionality to NLRP3 filament formation. This finding has the potential to conceivably stop inflammation at the "growing end", and thus bring chronic inflammatory diseases to a halt. The study has now been published in the journal "Science Advances".


Tag der Immunologie - Vorträge und mehr

May 03, 2022


Zum Tag der Immunologie präsentierten die Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler des Exzellenzclusters ImmunoSensation2 am 30.04.2022 erneut ihre Forschung in der Bonner Innenstadt. Wer sich für die Immunologie interessierte, konnte hier einen direkten Einblick in aktuelle Forschungsprojekte erhalten und mit Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftlern ins Gespräch kommen. Darüber hinaus konnte selbst Hand angelegt und unter Anleitung DNA aus Bananen extrahiert werden, oder ein Blick in eines der übergroßen Organmodelle geworfen werden.


New approach against chronic inflammation

April 20, 2022


ASC-specks in mice targeted with nanobodies
Researchers of ImmunoSensation2 at the Universities of Bonn together with colleagues at the University of Sao Paulo have succeeded in mitigating chronic inflammation in mice using customized "mini-antibodies". These nanobodies enabled them to dissolve molecular complexes in tissue that normally activate the immune system. The nanobodies produced may in future help to slow down unwanted inflammatory reactions that cause diseases such as arthritis or neurodegeneration. The study is published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine.


ImmunoSensation2 participates in research network CANTAR

April 14, 2022


CANTAR (CANcer TARgeting) research network funded with 19.4 million euros
The new research network CANTAR (CANcer TARgeting) in the field of oncology aims to develop new chemical substances to identify specific driving pathways of cancer and to explore how cancer can "escape" the immune system. The lead partner is the University of Cologne, with Humboldt Professor Dr. Henning Walczak of the Center for Biochemistry as designated spokesperson. Cluster Member Prof. Dr. Michael Hölzel, director of the Institute for Experimental Oncology at the University Hospital Bonn, is involved. CANTAR is funded with a total of 19.4 million euros for the funding period.


Surprising finding on the cause of hydrocephalus

April 05, 2022


Prof. Dr. Waldemar Kolanus, speaker of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2, together with an international team of scientists, shows that hydrocephalus is often caused by disrupted brain development.
Hydrocephalus in children often has completely different causes than previously assumed. This is the conclusion of an international study with a substantial participation by the University of Bonn. The researchers identified a series of mutations that cause disruption of early brain development. The characteristic enlargements of the fluid-filled cavities in the brain are a consequence of this. The study was led by Yale, Harvard and Bonn Universities; its findings also have implications for the diagnosis and treatment of this serious condition. The results are published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.


Felix Meißner receives prestigious ERC Consolidator Grant

March 15, 2022


The European Research Council is funding the Bonn professor of systems immunology and proteomics with around 2 million euros.

Inflammatory processes are a fundamental part of the body's defense system. But how are these processes regulated at the molecular level? How do the involved cell types coordinate their action? These are the questions that biochemist and systems immunologist Prof. Dr. Felix Meißner of the Bonn Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2 at the University Hospital Bonn is addressing. For his research, he now receives the coveted Consolidator Grant of the European Research Council (ERC). The selected project of the Bonn professor will be funded with about 2 million euros.


"Science for Ukraine" - Information for Scientists

March 04, 2022


The Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2 at Bonn participates in the initiative "Science For Ukraine"
We are a research consortium focused on innate immunity and welcome researchers in this field at all early career stages. The Cluster Coordination Office can advise you on finding available positions in our groups and applying for funding, or arrange short-term internships. Housing is not available, but we can help find it. Just contact us!


New strategy for COVID-19 prophylaxis identified

March 03, 2022


Researchers of the Bonn Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2 observe increased protection against severe COVID-19 courses through targeted stimulation of the RNA receptor RIG-I
The ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has caused an imminent urge for both antiviral therapeutical drugs and vaccines. While the development of vaccines was accomplished in a remarkably short timeframe, the identification of direct antiviral treatments has progressed comparatively slowly. In the light of the further risk of pandemics in the future, however, there remains need for direct antiviral drugs and treatments. Moreover, emerging immune-evasive SARS-CoV-2 variants are of concern.  These cause high numbers of infections even in a highly immunized population, underscoring the continuing need for effective antiviral drugs to treat COVID-19.
PhD student Samira Marx and her advisor Prof. Gunther Hartmann of the Institute of clinical chemistry and clinical pharmacology at the University Hospital Bonn, in collaboration with further members of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2 at the University of Bonn  Prof. Eva Bartok, Prof. Martin Schlee, Prof. Hiroki Kato, and colleagues have now shown that prophylactic stimulation of the antiviral innate immune receptor RIG-I provides protection against lethal SARS-CoV-2 infections in mice and reduces disease severity. The work has recently been published in the journal Molecular Therapy – Nucleic Acids.


Casein may contribute to MS development

March 01, 2022


Cow's milk protein triggers autoimmune response, inducing neuronal damage in mice

Patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis (MS) often complain of more severe disease symptoms after consuming dairy products. Researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2 at the University of Bonn, together with colleagues at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, have now found a possible cause for this: Casein, a protein in cow's milk, can trigger inflammation that damages myelin sheaths around nerve cells. The study was able to demonstrate this link in mice, but also found evidence of a similar mechanism in humans. The researchers therefore recommend that certain groups of affected individuals avoid dairy products. The study has now been published in the journal PNAS.


AI-driven facial analysis improves diagnosis

February 11, 2022


Researchers at the University of Bonn use artificial intelligence (AI) to detect rare diseases even more accurately

Rare genetic diseases can sometimes be recognized through facial features, such as characteristically shaped brows, nose or cheeks. Researchers of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2 have now trained software that uses portrait photos to better diagnose such diseases. The study has now been published in the journal "Nature Genetics".


Molecular Structure of human NLRP3 solved

February 04, 2022


Elucidating the structure of a central inflammatory switch provides the basis for the development of powerful anti-inflammatory therapeutic tools

ImmunoSensation2 Member Prof. Matthias Geyer and his team, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Regensburg, have solved the structure of a central cellular inflammatory switch: NLRP3. Cryo Electron Microscopy (Cryo-EM) analysis revealed NLRP3 to form a decameric structure when incubated with the inhibitor CRID3 (Cytokine Release Inhibitory Drug 3). Identifying the CRID3 binding-site as well as solving the overall structure of human NLRP3 now provides the basis to further elucidate the molecular mechanisms leading to activation of NLRP3, as well es the development of potent anti-inflammatory pharmaceuticals. The results are published in the journal Nature.


Tumor Cell Plasticity in Therapy Resistance

January 18, 2022


Prof. Dr. Michael Hölzel, Member of the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2 at the University of Bonn receives project funding of 1.5 million euros provided by the German Cancer Aid.
Cancer cells can constantly change and in this way evade the immune system. Prof. Dr. Michael Hölzel from the Institute of Experimental Oncology at the University of Bonn is developing an immunotherapy against black skin cancer: He wants to use "smart" immune cells to get a grip on the tumor cells that are currently trying to make themselves invisible. German Cancer Aid is funding the project with 1.5 million euros over the next five years as part of its new "Excellence Funding Program for Established Scientists".


Alzheimer’s: Inflammatory markers conspicuous at an early stage

January 12, 2022


Evidence of damage and neuroprotective processes long before symptoms of dementia manifest
Long before the onset of dementia, there is evidence for increased activity of the brain’s immune system. Researchers from the Cluster of Excellence ImmunoSensation2 of the DZNE and Bonn University come to this conclusion based on a study of more than 1,000 older adults. To this end, various proteins were measured in the cerebrospinal fluid: They served as so-called biomarkers that indicate inflammatory processes of the nervous system. As it turned out, some of these molecules seem to be part of a damage control program of the immune system, which could be useful for the development of new drugs. The study results have been published in the scientific journal “Neuron”.


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.