Immunology Crash Course

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21st february 2009

From Fast Food to cancer-devouring NK-cells: Third Immunology Crash Course of the GRK1172 took place at the weekend

Frankfurt – About 1.6 Million proteins are in the usual burger, however only 16 of them can provoke allergic reactions. Prof. Dr. Heinfried Radeke from the University Hospital in Frankfurt/Main, could not have made the introduction to his talk “Is Allergy a Consequence of a Bored Immune System?” vivid.

Guests joined in happily

35 Students came to the over two days to the third “Immunology Crash Course” of the research training group GRK1172 into the Georg-Speyer-Haus. That the course is a successful assortment of basic knowledge, practical application and incentive for further thoughts, has already been known. This was the reason that also medical students were keen to come as guests to profit from the animated discussions on various areas of biology, pharmacy, chemistry and medicine with the PhD students of the GRK1172.

After a brief general introduction to the immune system by Prof Radeke, Dr. Zoe Waibler from the Paul-Ehrlich-Institute started the lecture series with her talk entitled “Viral Infection, Type I Interferones at the Transition from Innate to Adaptive Immunity”. She emphasised the importance of innate immunity for the rapid inactivation and/or removal of pathogens, but also for the later occurring adaptive immune response. “Highly interesting, but very demanding” was the conclusion from the PhD students of the GRK1172.
Everything on naïve T-cells and the thymus as deciding factor for the maturation and differentiation of T-cells was the topic of the talk “T-lymphocytes: Development of Diversity and Tolerance and Keeping the Norm” by Prof. Dr. Dorothee Meike von Laer. Her talk was based on that of Dr. Ursula Dietrich on „B Cells, the Major Players in Humoral Immunity” in which she reported about antibody-mediated immune response.

Research in the own house

Together with Prof. Dr. Winfried Wels from the Georg-Speyer-Haus, PD Dr. Thorsten Tonn of the Blood Donor Centre had prepared the multimedia presentation “Therapeutic Measures to Kill a Tumour: from Immunotoxins to Genetically Engineered NK Cells” which showed very clearly proposals based on gene technology, to combat cancer cells. Subsequently Prof. Radeke reported about innate immune deficiencies, congenital dysfunctions of the immune system. He also included a technique developed in April 2006 by Dr. Manuel Grez of the Georg-Speyer-Haus to combat such immune defects. Dr. U. Dietrich who works on AIDS-research, gave an overview on the aquired immune deficiency AIDS and its causative organism, the human immunodeficiency virus.

The Immunology Crash Course 2009 was certain not in line with a typical lecture series: after a presentation by PD Dr. Ulrike Köhl of the paediatric clinic in Frankfurt on „Immune Reconstitution, GvL and GvHD after Stem Cell Transplantation“, the PhD students has to do a bit more than just listening to obtain their course certificate. “Textbook knowledge” Prof. Radeke calls the first questions on the clinical cases. For the students however this was mainly a transfer of what they had heard at the weekend to practical knowledge. Every “expert group” of four students to each clinical case could be sure to have motivated and solution-orientated audience.

Untroubled food-uptake

For lunch there was lasagne instead of burgers. By all probability, the Italian caterer started off with not one protein and allergen less than his American colleges, but the course participants could refresh themselves untroubled since unaware of allergens in lasagne. The possibility of an allergic reaction stayed here at the low probability of 1:100,000.