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Hannover Biomedical Research School (HBRS)
Laboranten, © Hannover Biomedical Research School (HBRS) Labor, © Hannover Biomedical Research School (HBRS)

Infection Biology, Molecular Medicine, Regenerative Sciences

Research foci of Hannover Biomedical Research School

Research Areas of the Hannover Biomedical Research School

Research area Infection Biology and Immunology

The world of modern Infectiology has changed enormously because of the impact of HIV on Virology as well as on Immunology. In fact the development of antiviral therapies for HIV has had enormous impact on the further development of antiviral drugs in many other areas. Also, recent outbreaks of newly emerging infectious diseases such as SARS could quickly be limited and stopped from spreading further. New diagnostic tests have been developed and vaccines are already available.

The infectious disease research in the Hannover area has focused particularly on bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori, Pseudomonas aeruginosa. But also viruses in immunocompromised patients, which play an enormous role in our clinical centre, are a focus of our research, i.e. herpes viruses, cytomegalovirus, hepatitis and HIV. Research in Infection Biology is always closely linked to the field of Immunology. Understanding the role of chemokines and cytokines, and their respective receptors in the immune system has helped in recent years in the development of new therapeutics.

All these substances have successfully helped to treat chronic inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic inflammatory bowel disease as well as asthma and other allergic diseases. But we still need to understand how to develop the best vaccine against HIV, malaria or tuberculosis, and about the way many autoimmune processes are unleashed. We need to find out, too, how many infectious pathogens are involved in triggering various chronic inflammatory or autoimmune diseases. It will be crucial to understand the immunological and cellular mechanism of the host in order to develop new therapies for the future. The collaborative research programs in Immunology are concentrating on cytokines, their receptors and signalling as well as on the pathomechanisms of the mucosal immune systems in the lung or the intestine.

Research Area Transplantation, Tissue Engineering and Stem Cell Biology

During the past four decades, transplantation medicine has developed from experimental clinical research into a routine standard procedure for many life-threatening diseases. The challenges for the future are induction of tolerance, acceptance of the donor immune system and avoidance of graft-versus-host disease and managing associated problems of immunosuppression and infectious diseases. More recently, it has been suggested that a number of diseases such as myocardial infarction or Alzheimer's disease might be treatable with human hematopoietic stem cells. How efficient these new procedures are and which mechanisms are acting here are still matters of research. This therapeutic strategy is based on the hypothesis that cells from bone marrow can incorporate into other tissues, take on the identity of resident cells and induce local regeneration. A second potential pathway for organ regeneration is the regenerative activity of resident stem cells in different organs. Future research needs to focus on factors determining stem cell plasticity in order better to define the conditions of therapeutic protocols. Since tissue injury is an important trigger of stem cell incorporation or "homing", it will be important for the future to define types and the time-course of injury in stem cell incorporation. It is also an open question which role cytokines play for stem cell mobilization. Another area of research in the field of regenerative medicine will be to understand endogenous molecular mechanisms (intrinsic factors and milieu) which control regeneration in health, disease and aging. In addition, we need a better understanding of developmental programs of organogenesis, cell cycle regulation, malignant transformation, as well as epigenetic "re"programming.