Main field of research
Our main research area is translating immunology
of chronic diseases or hyperreactivities such as allergies into new
cutting-edge therapeutic vaccines. Our virus-like particle (VLP)-based therapeutic
vaccines target key molecules involved in disease pathology and, in contrast to
other biologicals, are an inexpensive and effective way of treating chronic
disorders. Thus, advanced technology can become available even to our companion
animals. One of our main interests are skin-related problems in horses. The
most common chronic allergic dermatitis in horses is caused by insect bites. Insect-bite
hypersensitivity (IBH)-affected horses suffer from pruritic skin lesions,
caused by type-I/type-IVb allergic reactions accompanied by prominent
eosinophilic infiltration into the skin. We study the interplay of underlying
allergic reactions in early and chronic stages of disease. IBH in horses shares
common features with human asthma. Thus, we believe understanding the molecular
mechanisms in such allergic reactions can be translated to other species
including humans allowing to improving treatment modalities in the future.
- Active vaccination against Interleukin-5 as long-term treatment for insect bite hypersensitivity in horses. Allergy 2019, 74:572-582.
- Treating insect-bite hypersensitivity in horses with active vaccination against IL-5. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2018, 142:1194-1205.
- Inflammasome activation and IL-1b target IL-1a for secretion as opposed to surface expression. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2011,108:18055-60.
Prof. Thomas Kündig, MD, Chair of Department of Dermatology
Tel +41 44 255 3471 (secr.)
Prof. Pål Johansen, PhD
Tel +41 44 255 8616
Main fields of research
Our research focused on immunotherapy of allergies, infections, and cancer. The research is very much driven by real clinical needs, and to address scientific and clinical questions, we apply experimental research methods in vitro and in vivo and we perform clinical studies in humans.
In allergy, we aim to improve efficacy and safety of allergen immunotherapy (AIT) by using novel methods or technologies. For instance, we were the first to show that administration of allergens into lymph nodes (ILIT = intralymphatic immunotherapy) allowed shortening immunotherapy from three years of 50-60 injection to merely three injections during two months. Our lab was also instrumental in developing epicutaneous immunotherapy (EPIT), a non-invasive and patient friendly method that uses allergen patches for AIT delivery. We have also been strongly involved in the development of new adjuvants or particulate delivery systems for AIT. More recently, we are also investigating the potential of allergen-specific monoclonal antibodies for use in allergen immunotherapy. Alongside the AIT development, we are also studying basic immunological mechanisms underlying successful AIT, and we are constantly developing or improving methods for testing AIT pre-clinically in vitro and in vivo, e.g. in mouse models of allergy.
In cancer, we have lately been developing a new method of cancer vaccination by combining vaccines and photodynamic therapy (PDT), a method that enables the induction of cytotoxic and tumour-specific T-cell responses. Intradermal injections of tumour antigens and photosensitisers leads to their uptake in skin antigen-presenting cells, e.g. dendritic cells. Subsequent light administration enables cytosolic release of antigen from endosomes and subsequent MHC class-I-restricted antigen processing for stimulation of cytotoxic CD8 T cells.
Many of our research projects are performed in collaboration with biotech companies and aim to facilitate the translation of new technologies
Ying Men-Wäckerle, PhD
Fabio Hasler, PhD student
Marta Paolucci, PhD student
Zuzanna Kotkowska, PhD student
Deborah Leuthard, MD
Lara Sosic, MD student
Alina Müller, MD student
Lucy Hausammann, Master student
Agathe Duda, Research associate
Gery Jennings, PhD
Senta Walton, PhD
Grace Gordon, Research associate