Research Interests

In recent years, the intestinal microbiota and its influence on the host has gained more and more attention. Not only by microbiologists but also by immunologists, clinicians or even i.e. neurologists. The fact that the intestinal microbiota does not only help its host organism to metabolize nutrients, but also influences generalized body functions such as the immune system, reveals the impact of the gut and its residents on the well-being of the host.

 

It is known that the composition of the intestinal microbiota greatly influences the outcome and progress of a variety of pathologies. Among these pathologies, our group focuses on various autoimmune diseases. Although generalized effects of the intestinal microbiota on disease outcome are known, underlying molecular mechanisms of the interplay between the gut microbiota and the host immune system are less well understood. However, this understanding is crucial for a prospective microbiota-related therapy of gut-microbiota associated pathologies. We therefore do not focus on pathogens, but rather on commensal bacteria. Although being commensal, which means that they usually belong to a common and “healthy” microbiota, these microbes may provide differential effects on the host organism and this observation makes intestinal commensals important for the understanding of host-microbiota-interactions.

 

The aim to use microbiota-derived components as therapeuticals or to identifiy novel drug targets in the host, leads to several questions our group addresses to: (1) which bacterial components are the most potent immune system regulators? (2) could these bacterial components be used as potential drugs for inflammatory disorders? (3) what happens inside the host organism after encounter with specific commensals on a molecular level and (4) do these molecular insights help to identify novel drug targets for the treatment of inflammatory disorders?

 

Therefore, a deeper understanding in how certain gut commensal bacteria adapt to their host is of equal importance as the detailed effects on the immune system of the host.