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Langen Brutz, Germany

Kamp C.,Paul Ehrlich Institute
PLoS Computational Biology | Year: 2010

The epidemic spread of infectious diseases is ubiquitous and often has a considerable impact on public health and economic wealth. The large variability in the spatio-temporal patterns of epidemics prohibits simple interventions and requires a detailed analysis of each epidemic with respect to its infectious agent and the corresponding routes of transmission. To facilitate this analysis, we introduce a mathematical framework which links epidemic patterns to the topology and dynamics of the underlying transmission network. The evolution, both in disease prevalence and transmission network topology, is derived from a closed set of partial differential equations for infections without allowing for recovery. The predictions are in excellent agreement with complementarily conducted agent-based simulations. The capacity of this new method is demonstrated in several case studies on HIV epidemics in synthetic populations: it allows us to monitor the evolution of contact behavior among healthy and infected individuals and the contributions of different disease stages to the spreading of the epidemic. This gives both direction to and a test bed for targeted intervention strategies for epidemic control. In conclusion, this mathematical framework provides a capable toolbox for the analysis of epidemics from first principles. This allows for fast, in silico modeling - and manipulation - of epidemics and is especially powerful if complemented with adequate empirical data for parameterization. © 2010 Christel Kamp. Source


Koch J.,Paul Ehrlich Institute | Steinle A.,Goethe University Frankfurt | Watzl C.,Leibniz Research Center for Working Environment and Human Factors o | Mandelboim O.,Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Trends in Immunology | Year: 2013

Natural killer (NK) cells are central players in the vertebrate immune system that rapidly eliminate malignantly transformed or infected cells. The natural cytotoxicity receptors (NCRs) NKp30, NKp44, and NKp46 are important mediators of NK cell cytotoxicity, which trigger an immune response on recognition of cognate cellular and viral ligands. Tumour and viral immune escape strategies targeting these receptor-ligand systems impair NK cell cytotoxicity and promote disease. Therefore, a molecular understanding of the function of the NCRs in immunosurveillance is instrumental to discovering novel access points to combat infections and cancer. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. Source


Sliva K.,Paul Ehrlich Institute
Expert Opinion on Drug Discovery | Year: 2015

Introduction: HIV research is limited by the fact that lentiviruses are highly species specific. The need for appropriate models to promote research has led to the development of many elaborate surrogate animal models. Areas covered: This review looks at the history of animal models for HIV research. Although natural animal lentivirus infections and chimeric viruses such as chimera between HIV and simian immunodeficiency virus and simian-tropic HIV are briefly discussed, the main focus is on small animal models, including the complex design of the 'humanized' mouse. The review also traces the historic evolution and milestones as well as depicting current models and future prospects for HIV research. Expert opinion: HIV research is a complex and challenging task that is highly manpower-, money- and time-consuming. Besides factors such as hypervariability and latency, the lack of appropriate animal models that exhibit and recapitulate the entire infectious process of HIV, is one of the reasons behind the failure to eliminate the lentivirus from the human population. This obstacle has led to the exploitation and further development of many sophisticated surrogate animal models for HIV research. While there is no animal model that perfectly mirrors and mimics HIV infections in humans, there are a variety of host species and viruses that complement each other. Combining the insights from each model, and critically comparing the results obtained with data from human clinical trials should help expand our understanding of HIV pathogenesis and drive future drug development. © 2014 Informa UK, Ltd. Source


Abel T.,Paul Ehrlich Institute
Blood | Year: 2013

Different types of endothelial cells (EC) fulfill distinct tasks depending on their microenvironment. ECs are therefore difficult to genetically manipulate ex vivo for functional studies or gene therapy. We assessed lentiviral vectors (LVs) targeted to the EC surface marker CD105 for in vivo gene delivery. The mouse CD105-specific vector, mCD105-LV, transduced only CD105-positive cells in primary liver cell cultures. Upon systemic injection, strong reporter gene expression was detected in liver where mCD105-LV specifically transduced liver sinusoidal ECs (LSECs) but not Kupffer cells, which were mainly transduced by nontargeted LVs. Tumor ECs were specifically targeted upon intratumoral vector injection. Delivery of the erythropoietin gene with mCD105-LV resulted in substantially increased erythropoietin and hematocrit levels. The human CD105-specific vector (huCD105-LV) transduced exclusively human LSECs in mice transplanted with human liver ECs. Interestingly, when applied at higher dose and in absence of target cells in the liver, huCD105-LV transduced ECs of a human artery transplanted into the descending mouse aorta. The data demonstrate for the first time targeted gene delivery to specialized ECs upon systemic vector administration. This strategy offers novel options to better understand the physiological functions of ECs and to treat genetic diseases such as those affecting blood factors. Source


Denner J.,Robert Koch Institute | Tonjes R.R.,Paul Ehrlich Institute
Clinical Microbiology Reviews | Year: 2012

Xenotransplantation may be a solution to overcome the shortage of organs for the treatment of patients with organ failure, but it may be associated with the transmission of porcine microorganisms and the development of xenozoonoses. Whereas most microorganisms may be eliminated by pathogen-free breeding of the donor animals, porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVs) cannot be eliminated, since these are integrated into the genomes of all pigs. Human-tropic PERV-A and -B are present in all pigs and are able to infect human cells. Infection of ecotropic PERV-C is limited to pig cells. PERVs may adapt to host cells by varying the number of LTR-binding transcription factor binding sites. Like all retroviruses, they may induce tumors and/or immunodeficiencies. To date, all experimental, preclinical, and clinical xenotransplantations using pig cells, tissues, and organs have not shown transmission of PERV. Highly sensitive and specific methods have been developed to analyze the PERV status of donor pigs and to monitor recipients for PERV infection. Strategies have been developed to prevent PERV transmission, including selection of PERV-C-negative, low-producer pigs, generation of an effective vaccine, selection of effective antiretrovirals, and generation of animals transgenic for a PERV-specific short hairpin RNA inhibiting PERV expression by RNA interference. © 2012, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved. Source

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