Innate cells in solid tumors
We are aiming to understand the role of innate-like lymphocytes in tumor studies.
For instance, mucosa-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells have recently been identified as a population of terminally differentiated effector-type T cells being capable of secreting high amounts of both Th1 and Th17-associated cytokines, along with a set of cytotoxic molecules for killing of infected target cells.
MAIT cells are characterized by the expression of an invariant TCR Vα chain (Vα7.2 in humans, Vα19 in mice), sensing riboflavin derived metabolites produced by a number of bacteria and funghi, presented by the MHC-I related molecule MR1. However, their functional role for solid tumors remains to be elucidated.
Currently, we investigate MAIT cells in hepatic cellular carcinoma, pancreatic and colon cancer.
Innate lymphoid cells in transplantation
Recently, the discovery of innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) has led to the identification of a multifaceted group of innate tissue-resident cells which are involved in desired and undesired immune responses, organ homeostasis and regeneration.
In the context of SOT, the role of ILC has not been comprehensively studied so far.
In the present project, we will examine how ILC biology is impacted by the transplantation-associated risk factors and whether these risk factors- induced ILC alterations relate to allograft outcome.
These studies will be complemented by the phenotypical and functional analysis of ILC in the clinical context by examining renal and hepatic zero-hour biopsies as well as perfusates following machine perfusion for organ reconditioning.
We comprehensively study the role of ILC in the context of solid organ transplantation and test strategies to therapeutically manipulate ILC biology towards tissue homeostasis and regeneration, thereby improving graft function.
Immune responses towards SARS-CoV-2
Patients suffering from end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and kidney transplanted individuals are imperiled to increased infection risks, either due to hemodialysis-associated or therapeutic immunosuppression (IS), respectively.
A growing body of evidence indicates that both patient groups also show considerably increased mortality after CoV-2 infection.
So far, virus specific cellular immunity in these individuals has not been analyzed. In the ongoing research, we investigate the prevalence of pre-existing CoV-2 cross-reactive memory, its modification by immunosuppression and the consequences for COVID-19.