The section of Immunology investigates innate and adaptive defense strategies against human and animals pathogens with a special interest in fungal pathogens.
Of the approximately 1.5 million different species of fungi on earth, only a few hundred are known to be pathogenic for humans and animals. These comprise organisms that are found in the normal microbiota of mammalian hosts. Disease symptoms that occur when host defense barriers are breached reach from mild infections that can be cured by available antifungal drugs to severe and life threatening diseases such as fungal meningitis and sepsis, which are associated with a high mortality rate.
Understanding the basic mechanisms of fungal pathogenicity and antifungal defense is key for improving diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive measures against these clinically relevant opportunistic infections. The research in our laboratory focuses on immune mechanisms against Candida albicans and Malassezia spp., which protect the host in a tissue specific manner from mucosal and systemic infections. Our particular interest is on the role of interleukin-17 and neutrophil-mediated antifungal defense. The knowledge gained from our research is not limited to medical mycology but is also relevant for gaining a better understanding of host defense against other infectious agents and tumors as well as gaining insights into the crosstalk between infectious and inflammatory disorders.
Besides our core research projects, we collaborate with research groups from the paraclinical and clinical departments of the Vetsuisse Faculty on various topics in the fields of immunology and infectious diseases.