The human body's attempt to eradicate invading viruses can eventually become fatal. With the current Covid-19 pandemic, it is in many cases hyperinflammation and cytokine storm caused by the viral infection that kill patients. Perhaps a deeper understanding of the immune system of fruit flies will enable us to develop strategies that slow down the inflammatory component of the human immune system without reducing the antiviral effect.
Immune cells in the lungs are important for the immune system's recognition and fight against viruses. However, the virus that produces COVID-19 is not recognised by these cells, as the virus may hide its genomic material, and as a result the cells' immune system against the virus is not activated. This may help explain why some people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic in the early stages of the disease.
The immune system protects us from attacks from external enemies such as bacteria and viruses, but sometimes the body fights so fiercely against external threats that people die. In COVID-19, the immune system slows the spread of viruses. New research shows that this means that damaged tissue is not repaired in the lungs, which is why many people succumb to COVID-19. One way to rescue people with serious cases of COVID-19 is therefore to suppress the immune system’s chemical warfare.
An international research team led by Professor Jacob George of Storr Liver Centre in Sydney, Australia - with the participation of researchers from Aarhus University Hospital and Aarhus University - has mapped the human genetic properties affecting the degree of liver injury in patients with hepatitis C virus infection.
Researchers have discovered a defect in the immune system, which causes some people with herpes virus to develop a life-threatening inflammation of the brain. This immunodeficiency is likely the same for certain types of meningitis and also the reason why some people become seriously ill due to influenza.
One of the most common causes of hepatitis C (formerly known as infectious hepatitis) is a hepatitis C virus infection in the liver. The disease can be treated, but not all patients are cured by the treatment currently available. New research shows that the response to medical treatment depends on genetic factors.
An international team of researchers under Danish leadership is the first in the world to culture and purify an interferon (protein) called lambda 4 (IFNλ4) – a protein that behaves like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Paradoxically, it increases the risk of getting hepatitis C (HCV) and reduces the chances of being cured, but nevertheless has a potent effect against HCV in the laboratory. With these new results and further studies, the long-term hope is to stop the interferon’s negative effect and thereby achieve greater success in treating patients with hepatitis C.
A new SARS-like virus has been found in the Middle East, and an international team of researchers involving Danish scientists has found that the new virus grows just as fast as a cold virus, but that the disease is more severe. The disease could potentially be cured with a treatment that stimulates the immune system.
An international research team has published results showing that boosting the protein OASL may help the body to detect and fend off certain viral infections on its own. The discovery could lead to new, more effective treatments for many dangerous viruses such as hepatitis C and influenza.
Professor Rune Hartmann, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University, has been awarded a Distinguished Investigator grant of DKK 10 million (Euro 1,34 million) from the Novo Nordisk Foundation over the next five years to develop pharmaceutic strategies to limit inflammation without significantly limiting the immune system's ability to fight viruses.
Rune Hartmann is appointed professor of “Innate Immunology” at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Aarhus University, effective from 1 June 2018.
A group of researchers at AU has been granted DKK 15 million to create a new research center forn studying the body's membrane proteins. The following researchers from the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics participate in the center: Gregers Rom Andersen, Rune Hartmann, Lene Niemann Nejsum, Poul Nissen, Claus Oxvig and Lea Thøgersen.