Overview Group ‘Skin Immunology and Allergy’
A well balanced immune system is a pre-requisite for maintenance of health and the decision between initiation of inflammation and tolerance is critical. Disturbances in the so-called immunologic memory may lead to imbalances and dysregulation in the immune system and consecutively to development of diverse diseases such as cancer, diabetes and allergy. T cells play an important part in immunologic memory and ensure an adequate and protective reaction to danger signals. During the last decade, it became obvious that distinct subsets of T cells exist that fulfill diverse tasks in our immune system. Our group is interested in understanding the contribution of the so-called T helper (Th) cells to the pathogenesis of allergic diseases. Here, our focus lies on allergic diseases of the skin such as atopic eczema (‘Neurodermitis’) and allergic contact dermatitis, but also on non-allergic inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis (‘Schuppenflechte’). The pathogenesis of these skin diseases is represented by a complex interplay of environmental factors with a genetic predisposition and imbalances in the immune system that lead to the characteristic disease phenotype (fig. 1). Due to the tremendous treatment costs and caused days-off work, allergic and non-allergic inflammatory skin diseases represent an enormous challenge for the socio-economic system. Besides financial aspects, the individual quality of life of affected patients is massively reduced implying the need for efficient therapies.
The aim of our research is a detailed understanding of diseases pathology with a focus on the contribution of Th cells leading to the development of more specific and efficient treatment options for allergic disorders of the skin.
To reach our aims, research is performed in a bed-bench-bed approach in close collaboration with the Department of Dermatology and Allergy of the Technische Universität München. With our technical portfolio, we take a snapshot of the in vivo situation and mimic this situation in vitro. In various projects, we have a closer look onto the presence and functional relevance of T cell subsets on disease pathology, the deep phenotyping of T cell subsets, the cross talk between T cells and tissue resident epithelial cells, the molecular disease signature and the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic tools.