Arm with erythema due to Borrelia infection
Lyme disease is the most common disease transmitted by tick bites in Germany. Whether a particular genetic predisposition plays a role in the development of the disease and which immunological processes in the body are involved is not yet sufficiently understood. A research team from the Centre for Individualised Infection Medicine (CiiM), a joint institution of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) and Hannover Medical School (MHH), has now discovered a responsible gene variant and the immune parameters involved in cooperation with Radboud University Hospital (Radboundumc; Radboud Universitair Medisch Centrum) and Amsterdam UMC (both in the Netherlands). The researchers have published their findings in two studies. These have been published in the journal Nature Communications and BMC Infectious Diseases.
Portrait Tobias Welte
On March 10, 2024, Prof. Tobias Welte, Director of the Clinic for Pneumology and Infectiology at Hannover Medical School (MHH), passed away unexpectedly at the age of 64. Welte was a long-standing close cooperation partner in joint research projects between the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) and the MHH, which resulted in numerous publications in renowned research journals.
3D illustration of the cytomegalovirus
The human cytomegalovirus, HCMV for short, lies dormant unnoticed in the body of most people for their entire lives. In immunocompromised individuals, however, the virus can cause life-threatening infections. It infects dendritic cells, a specific type of cell in the immune system. Although the majority of them are infected, only a few of them immediately execute the virus's genetic programme. Researchers at TWINCORE, Centre for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research, have now been able to show which signalling pathways of the innate immune system the virus is targeting in order to have itself produced by the host cells. They have published their findings in the journal Nature Communications. The TWINCORE is a joint institution of Hannover Medical School (MHH) and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig.
Symbol image; hand turns an equal and an unequal sign between the symbols for male and female gender
Men are more susceptible to a number of chronic infections, while women, in turn, are more likely to overreact to infections. The underlying reason and why it needs to be taken into account more in clinical practice in the future. Am I more likely to have a mild case of pneumonia or is it more likely to be life-threatening? What is my risk of side effects from COVID-19 vaccination? Do I belong to a group of people who are more likely to contract chronic viral hepatitis than others? The answers to these questions vary – depending on your sex and gender. Hospitalised for pneumonia, males are twice as likely as females to need to be transferred to intensive care (see list of sources). Females, in turn, are more than twice as likely as males to suffer side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine. And chronic hepatitis B is more common among males than among females.
AI Image symbolique, personne en blouse blanche avec stéthoscope en arrière-plan
Improving health care and strengthening personalized medicine: A new research center for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and causal methods in medicine (CAIMed - Lower Saxony Center for Artificial Intelligence and Causal Methods in Medicine) is being established in Lower Saxony. Researchers in computer science and medicine from Hannover, Göttingen and Braunschweig will develop innovative methods and applications of artificial intelligence. The Ministry of Science and Culture and the Volkswagen Foundation are providing 15 million euros from the joint "zukunft.niedersachsen" program for the next five years. Prof Wolfgang Nejdl from the L3S Research Centre at the Leibniz University of Hanover (LUH) will act as spokesperson. Two of the new research groups will be set up at sites of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI).
Portrait of researchers
The list of “Highly-cited researchers” is published annually by Clarivate Analytics to honor scientists who have made a particularly significant impact in their fields. Five heads of department at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) are among the honorees in 2023: bioinformaticians Prof Alice McHardy, Prof Yang Li and Prof Andreas Keller, biotechnologist Prof Marc Stadler and the Scientific Director of the HZI and geneticist Prof Josef Penninger were recognized for their scientific publications in the past year.