Head of the Research Group

Dr. Andreas Pichlmair
Dr. Andreas Pichlmair

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How are viruses sensed and defended by the human body?

Research Group "Innate Immunity" (Andreas Pichlmair)

The human body is constantly attacked by pathogenic bacteria and viruses. Therefore the immune system has evolved mechanisms to fight these unwanted guests. Andreas Pichlmair and his research group elucidate, how pathogens and host act against each other and which interactions decide on the success or failure of a viral attack. Pichlmair`s research focuses on molecular sensors of the immune system which recognize viruses and initiate the proper maneuver. In a previous study Pichlmair revealed a fundamental mechanism cells use to fight viruses: The IFIT proteins can differentiate between viral genetic material from the cellular material and destroy it – which makes these proteins interesting for novel antiviral therapies. The figure shows the interaction of a protein complex including IFIT-proteins (large circles) which recruits other proteins during the defense of pathogens. But the scientists also investigate the attack strategies of viruses.
They use viral immune modulators and other mechanisms to block an immune response. Pichlmair’s team has identified around 600 cellular target proteins that are influenced by these viral immune modulators.

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