Researchers at Heidelberg University Hospital have discovered a protein that is vital for the toxoplasmosis pathogen. This quite common infectious disease which is mainly transferred to humans from cats is especially dangerous for pregnant women as it can harm an unborn child.
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology together with American colleagues have decoded the genome of the Pristionchus pacificus nematode. It consists of a large number of genes. The scientists gain insight into the evolution of parasitism.
Parasites of the Trypanosomatidae family cause a number of serious human diseases. Researchers from Italy, Belgium, and Germany have published the identification of novel anti-parasitic compounds targeting an enzyme unique to the parasites. These compounds are promising for the development of drugs with fewer side-effects than current medical treatments.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen Germany determined the structure of a protein L1ORF1p which is encoded by a parasitic genetic element and which is responsible for its mobility.
Plants release strigolactones into the soil in order to attract friendly organisms and establish a symbiotic association with them. Unfortunately these plant hormones are also perceived by parasitic weeds. A team of researchers led by Salim Al-Babili from the University of Freiburg has now identified important steps in the biosynthesis of strigolactones as well as coming up with unexpected discoveries. Does the new knowledge enable researchers to develop compounds that favour the establishment of selective symbioses?
The fight against malaria is one of the targets of goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (ensuring healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages). The research carried out by Prof. Dr. Frischknecht and Mirko Singer from the Centre for Infectious Diseases at Heidelberg University Hospital is one of several steps towards eradicating malaria.
Researchers have discovered two new TBE transmission pathways: the first related to the consumption of raw milk and raw milk cheese that can cause encephalitis, and the second is another tick species that can pass on the TBE virus, thus increasing the risk of contracting the disease even in winter.
Malaria, which is a mosquito-borne disease caused by Plasmodium parasites, is still one of the worst infectious human diseases. The parasites have developed resistance against previously effective drugs and new strategies to combat malaria are urgently needed.
People who have survived a malaria infection often develop immunity to the disease. International malaria research is aimed at exploiting a person's natural immunity in order to treat malaria effectively and avoid resistance to previously effective drugs. These new approaches also raise hopes that one day countries at high risk of malaria may be able to eradicate the devastating disease.
More than one billion people worldwide suffer from neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). NTDs are mostly poverty-related infectious diseases that prevail in tropical countries due to lack of research and measures to detect, prevent and control them. Dr. Dr. Carsten Köhler reports on the political, economic and scientific contributions Germany and Baden-Württemberg can make to successfully change this situation.
Researchers from Heidelberg and Berlin have shown that if malaria-infected mice are administered an antibiotic, no parasites appear in the blood and the mice are protected from this life-threatening disease. The scientists believe that antibiotics also have the potential to strengthen the human immune system as well as making it possible to provide a natural needle-free vaccination against malaria.
MalVa GmbH was founded as a spin-off company of Heidelberg University Hospital around five years ago and its aim is to develop an effective and safe inactivated vaccine against malaria. MalVa GmbH’s innovative strategy to combat this infectious disease involves a cocktail of several parasite antigens.
Detecting viruses, bacteria or parasites in human, animal, food and environmental samples is routine for the staff of gerbion GmbH & Co. KG. The company has been using virological, microbiological and serological methods for many years, but is now also using cutting-edge molecular biology methods for detecting pathogens. The founders of the Kornwestheim-based diagnostics company have concentrated on own research work and the development of new detection methods and tests right from the word go.
Malaria can be treated with atovaquone a drug that inhibits a particular enzyme in Plasmodia. However the parasites are becoming increasingly resistant to the drug. Carola Hunte and Dominic Birth from the Institute for Biochemistry at the University of Freiburg have shown how atovaquone binds to the protein and what happens at the molecular level in resistant plasmodia. Their research provides an impetus for structure-based drug design aimed at specifically improving the antimalarial.
Varroa mites attach to the body of bees and weaken them by sucking hemolymph infecting them with viruses that are believed to be the cause of the mass death of European honeybee colonies. Matthias Giese of the Heidelberg-based Institute for Molecular Vaccines developed a DNA vaccine that might just lead to a breakthrough in the quest to get rid of the Varroa parasites. Giese tells us about his project in the following interview.
After many decades, efforts to develop an effective vaccine against malaria have finally brought researchers closer to their goal. However, the goal of eradicating malaria completely can only be reached through a complex strategy, to which researchers from Heidelberg are making intensive contributions.
Extends ongoing collaboration with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with award of two new grants. CureVac AG, a fully-integrated biopharmaceutical company pioneering the field of mRNA-based drugs, today announced the awarding of two new grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Over 150 scientists at various locations throughout Germany work together as part of the German Centre for Infection Research (DZIF). The centre focuses on the development of new diagnostic, preventive and therapeutic methods for treating infectious diseases. Scientists from the University and University Hospital of Tübingen and the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology are also part of the project. The researchers from Tübingen are mainly involved in research into and the search for new drugs against malaria, gastrointestinal diseases and infections caused by bacteria resistant to commonly used antibiotics. As clinical trials specialists, the researchers from Tübingen have been conducting since November 2014 a clinical trial in Africa for a potential Ebola vaccine on behalf of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Immune cells sometimes kick over the traces. This could lead to allergic reactions. At the Freiburg Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology a group of researchers led by Professor Michael Huber is investigating the mechanisms that can prevent this from happening.
For the first time ever, honeybees were orally ‚vaccinated’ with a genetically engineered product that was later detected in the bloodsucking Varroa mite. This product is a DNA-plasmid that is normally used for man, horses, swine and also for fish. The inventor of this innovative DNA-vaccination system for bees is Matthias Giese, PhD, who launches his own Institute for Molecular Vaccines (IMV) in Heidelberg/Germany starting in 2010.
Prof. Dr. Manfred Jungs team at the University of Freiburg are chemical epigeneticists whose research involves the development of methods that enable them to identify and optimise new therapeutic drugs which are able to alter the epigenetic code of cancer and other cell types. The team use a perfidious worm for their research.
Today, Dr. Rebecca Wade, head of the “Molecular and Cellular Modelling” research group at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS), has been appointed to the W3 professorship “Computational Structural Biology” (Faculty of Biosciences/HITS) at the University of Heidelberg.
Scientists at the Institute for Biological Interfaces IBG at the KIT - Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have succeeded in identifying highly effective protein chains which have the potential of being used as part of an anti-inflammatory protection layer on implants.