The team and its role within CYSTINET-Africa
The Germany II team is based at the university hospital (Klinikum rechts der Isar) of the Technical University of Munich (TUM). The TUM’s university hospital is one of the first Universities of Excellence in Germany and covers the entire spectrum of modern medicine. With the close cooperation between medical care and research, new scientific discoveries can be rapidly incorporated into patient care and therapies at an early stage. The research group headed by Prof. Prazeres da Costa from the Institute for Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Hygiene (MIH) is located at the hospital campus. The main research interest of the group is the understanding of host-parasite interaction and the host’s immunomodulation induced by multicellular parasites to ensure survival and reproduction. Due to its immunological research focus heavily based on basic research, the group has taken the lead in tackling the immunological questions within the consortium. The research agenda thus covers everything from assay development to analysis of immune responses during and after anti-helminthic intervention. The MIH itself has broad core facilities devoted to cutting-edge research in infections with bacteria, viruses and helminths as well as cancer treatment and allergies. This will allow Germany II to foster the implementation of modern experimental techniques into the epidemiological studies, the expansion of local capacity and the development of a strong relationship at the academic level for sustainable future collaborations. An example is the study planned in Mozambique on Taenia solium cysticercosis/taeniosis (TSCT) and neurocysticercosis (NCC) and its related immunological pathomechanisms. The effects of the pork tapeworm on the immune system of infected patients are largely unknown. “We do not yet understand why these complex organisms with their own metabolism trigger practically no immune response as long as they are alive, but can do so after dying, for example after treatment with medication,” comments Prof. Prazeres da Costa. “Our hypothesis is that the larvae actively suppress the immune response, both directly through parasite proteins, as well as by using the body’s own suppressor cells.” To gain more insight into this critical point, Germany II has been assigned three main objectives that it will tackle, together with the expertise of its cooperation with the other teams in the consortium.
The objectives of the team
- Estimation of the prevalence of TSCT/NCC among people with T. solium cysticercosis or neurological symptoms in northern Mozambique
- Association of immunological parameters with clinical and radiological characteristics of NCC
- Evaluation of immune responses among people with symptomatic NCC after initiation of standard anti-helminthic treatment