License to subdue
Two-step conversion of monocytes into immunosuppressive monocytes
A new publication reveals that the fate and effector functions of differentiating monocytes all depend on the right timing: Early in an immune response, when monocytes encounter activated T cells producing the important cytokines GM-CSF and IFN-γ at inflammatory sites, they differentiate into activated macrophages or dendritic cells and enhance the immune response. However, later in an immune response, monocytes within the bone marrow or spleen are exposed to systemically elevated GM-CSF cytokine levels before they encounter IFN-γ-producing T cells. This means that a two-step licensing process takes place that monocytes can turn into immunosuppressive cells, which are also termed myeloid-derived suppressor cells.
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Translational Immunology – International experts in immunology meet in Würzburg, where Rudolf Virchow laid the foundation for modern pathology
Harnessing the immune system to treat cancer patients has been a big leap forward in cancer therapy of the past years. Clinical approval of new immunotherapies preventing immune escape in cancer patients build on scientific advances of the past decades. This novel approach is encouraging, but more patients should benefit by advancing and refining immunotherapies and the accompanying diagnostics. These exciting developments and their current limitations but also advances in autoimmune, inflammatory and infectious diseases were the focus of this year’s 4th Else-Kröner-Symposium “Translational Immunology – From Target to Therapy IV”. Pioneers in the field from all over the world convened for two days in Würzburg. Expert scientists presented and discussed newest preclinical and basic research data and recent results from clinical trials. Particularly, immunologists at the meeting focussed on how to overcome remaining challenges and to move the field forward. Again, we organized this year’s international Else-Kröner-Symposium at Würzburg’s Gartenpavillon at the Juliusspital. In this historic venue Rudolf Virchow laid important foundations for modern pathology. The meeting from May 4-5, 2017 provided an excellent opportunity for young scientists to present and discuss their own research with international experts in the fields of cancer immunotherapy, inflammation, autoimmune and infectious diseases.
The Translational Immunology – From Target to Therapy IV conference was generously supported by the Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung.
Advanced training course in immunology
Every year the German Society of Immunology (DGfI) organizes a spring school. This advanced training course in diverse immunological topics was offered for young researchers and physicians from March 5th-10th, 2017 in Ettal, Bavaria. This year’s Spring School on Immunology was organized by Friederike Berberich-Siebelt from Würzburg University together with Christine Falk (Hannover), Robert Jack (Greifswald), Michael Lohoff (Marburg), Fritz Melchers (Berlin), Andreas Radbruch (Berlin) and Hendrik Schulze-Koops (München). Julia Hartweg and Musga Qureischi participated from the Beilhack lab in this year’s spring school. Beyond a great learning experience they could also present and discuss their own research work with young scientists and experts in the field.
Lecture at Gordon Research Conference
The scientific work of Natarajaswamy “Natraj” Kalleda has been honored with a lecture at the distinguished Gordon Research Conference on Fungal Immunology in Galveston, Texas.
In his lecture Natraj Kalleda presented his recent work on how preparative regimens for adoptive immune cell therapy, even if well-intended, could impair efficient immune control of life-threatening fungal infections. His talk “Corticosteroids impair granulocyte transfusion therapy by targeting NET formation and neutrophil antifungal functions via ROS/Dectin1 pathways” caused wide attention, sparked discussion and may influence how we treat fungal infections in immunocompromised patients in the future.
More than 27.000 physicians, scientists and clinician-scientists from all over the world participated in this year’s Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) from December 3-6, 2016 in San Diego. This year, our group contributed to this conference with three presentations. Considering the outreach and the limited slots to present data, we are very proud that all three participating scientists from the Beilhack lab were also selected for the prestigious ASH Abstract Achievement Awards: Musga Qureischi, who joined the group for her PhD project in 2016; Dr. Antonio Solimando, a physician-scientist and visiting scholar from the University of Bari, Italy; and Natraj Kalleda, who recently completed his PhD thesis.
Three award selected presentations on diverse topics
In his lecture on Sunday morning Dr. Antonio Solimando reported new results on the interaction of multiple myeloma cells with the bone marrow microenvironment. Also on Sunday, Natraj Kalleda presented novel insights into adoptive cellular therapy for invasive aspergillus infections. In the session for allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation on Monday, Musga Qureischi gave a talk on our collaborative research project with PD Dr. Friederike Berberich-Siebelt on molecular signaling in alloreactive T cells in GVHD. The Annual ASH Conference is considered as the most important venue in the broad field of hematology including research for hematologic malignancies, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and immunotherapy.
On Friday, September 23rd, 2016, Prof. Andreas Beilhack was invited to participate at the 1st Viennese T cell Colloquium in Vienna, Austria. He presented the lab’s recent progress in stimulating regulatory T cells in vivo for the treatment of inflammatory conditions, such as acute graft-versus-host disease. Before the lectures took place in the fabulous historic Jugendstil lecture hall at Vienna’s General Hospital the group enjoyed a guide tour through the fantastic anatomic collections and wax models dating back to 1784 at the Josephinum. The topics of the conference ranged from T cell development and thymic selection to T cell mediated autoimmune diseases, transplantation and cancer immunotherapy.
Our lab has developed a new approach that may prevent leukemia and lymphoma patients from developing graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) after therapeutic bone marrow transplants. Acute GvHD can be a life-threatening immune reaction following transplantation. In an article by Martin Chopra et al. we describe the successful application of the strategy in mice in our recent paper “Exogenous TNFR2 activation protects from acute GvHD via host regulatory T cell expansion” that is now published in The Journal of Experimental Medicine.
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Every year the Beilhack lab spends one day together more devoted to fun group activities like canoeing, hiking, climbing, laser tagging and exploring Würzburg and its beautiful surrounding rather than sophisticated and ground breaking scientific experiments. Archery won this year’s vote for the annual Beilhack lab retreat on July 19. The Steigerwald forrest near Würzburg provided a wonderful setting for our excursion on this hot summer day. For sure, focus and skill were key and, clearly, Miriam Ritz could establish herself as our best toxophilite.