New associated research group at the LIV: Immune Ontogeny and Viral Infections

Friday, 01. September 2023

Pediatrician and immunologist Prof. Dr. Bunders (LIV, UKE) receives a Heisenberg Professorship entitled "Regenerative Medicine and Immunology" from the German Research Foundation (DFG). Her research group is investigating the mechanisms underlying the increased susceptibility to viral infections in children with the aim of identifying new therapeutic approaches to treat infections and repair damaged tissues. The researcher and her team have developed 3D organoid - immune cell systems that enable them to study the interactions between human tissue and immune cells in tissue infections and repair.

Newborn children have an immature immune system, rendering them more vulnerable to severe viral infections. Identifying therapeutic approaches that can improve the immune response in these children is one of Prof. Dr. Bunders' goals. To better treat children, it is first necessary to understand how children's immune cells recognize virus-infected cells and contribute to tissue healing.

To do this, the researcher has found an innovative approach to study the role of immune cells in recognizing virus-infected cells and tissue healing in the laboratory: organoids. These small pieces of tissue mimic characteristics of organs such as the intestine and liver and even make it possible to use cells from specific patient groups directly. In this way, infections and repair of damaged organs can be studied  individually.

Ms. Bunders will now pursue her research as a professor at Eppendorf University Hospital with premises at LIV and group leader of the associated group Immune Ontogeny and Viral Infections.

Prof. Dr. Madeleine Bunders