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Joining forces against COVID-19  

Since the beginning of this year, the Corona pandemic has kept the world on alert. Health and economic consequences are severe and restrict all our lives. Faculty and students from the Integrated Immunology Master Program are engaging in the fight against the pandemic and contribute their expertise.

Research and vaccine development implemented in teaching

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the lecturers of Elite Graduate Program "Integrated Immunology" have included current topics in coronavirus research, including antiviral therapies and the development of vaccination strategies, in their teaching concept for the present and upcoming semesters. Thus, students discuss current and novel vaccination strategies in problemoriented learning courses and seminars in order to understand recent approaches for vaccine development and to further develop ideas about novel therapeutic avenues to fight virus spread. 

Epidemiological research and diagnostics

With this essential knowledge at hand, students were able to assist in the diagnostics of patient samples at the Institute of Virology. Currently, the study "Prospective Covid19 Cohort Tirschenreuth" has started. Under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Klaus Überla (Head of the Institute of Clinical and Molecular Virology at the University Hospital Erlangen and faculty of the ESG) and Prof. Wagner (Virology Regensburg) blood samples from the former corona hot spot are to be collected and examined for virus-specific antibodies. This will allow to draw conclusions about the induction of SARS-CoV-2-specific immunity in the population, the dynamics of virus spreading and the longevity of the virus-induced immune response.

Development of passive vaccination strategies

Two professors of the course are also in­volv­ed in developing SARS-CoV-2-specific an­ti­bodies to help patients with severe di­sea­se. Together with Prof. Dr. Hans-Martin Jäck (head of Molecular Immunology at the Erlangen Hospital), the two iImmune lec­tur­ers Prof. Dr. Klaus Überla (Institute of Vi­ro­logy) and Prof. Dr. Thomas Winkler (De­part­ment of Genetics FAU) are developing a strategy for the passive im­mu­ni­za­tion of patients with severe COVID-19 disease. By isolating antibodies from COVID-19 patients who have already recovered, the aim of their work is to use these virus-specific antibodies to support the immune system of patients who were not able to fight the disease and are in danger of systemic infection resulting in life-threatening complications.

Text: Elite Graduate Program "Integrated Immunology"