Human adenoviruses (Ads) have evolved strategies to counteract the host immune system. As a result, these DNA viruses not only cause acute infections of the respiratory tract, the gastrointestinal tract and the eye, but also establish persistent infections. The diseases associated with infection range in severity from mild to life-threatening in immunocompromised (AIDS, transplantation) patients.
The primary goal of our research is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms by which adenoviruses evade the host immune defence and how these mechanisms contribute to disease. We are particularly interested in the association of certain Ad types of species D (AD8, Ad19a, Ad37, Ad53, Ad54, Ad56)with epidemic keratoconjunctivitis (EKC), a severe eye disease that can persist for a long time. Moreover, these studies give further insight into basic processes of the cell and the immune system, such as antigen presentation, apoptosis and lymphocyte manipulation. The knowledge gained can be appliedfor improving adenovirus vectors for gene therapy, cancer therapy and vaccination or for generating novel immunomodulatory drugs.