The Sawitzki lab investigates the molecular mechanisms of immune cell activation and tolerance induction, in order to better understand why components of the immune response themselves become a trigger of destructive inflammatory reactions, like e.g. in the context of autoimmune diseases, rejection reactions after organ transplantation or COVID19 diseases.
To gain fundamental insights into molecular control mechanisms of immune cell activation and immune tolerance, we analyse the mode of action of immune cells in preclinical models and novel 3D culture systems. With the help of genetic modifications, we try to identify important factors in the immune control and reveal their mode of action in detail. One particular focus lies on factors that influence T-cell differentiation and activation.
Patient studies play an equally important role. Using multi-parametric technologies (cytometry, imaging, scRNAseq), we uncover pathological changes in the composition and function of immune cells in patient cohorts or material. In the future, immune profiling should help to make individualised and targeted therapy decisions for specific disease courses in close cooperation with clinical partners for the benefit of the patient.
The results of our preclinical investigations and clinical studies help to identify and implement new therapeutic approaches in the field of inflammatory, infectious and tumour diseases. One example of the successful implementation of this strategy in the past, is the administration of regulatory cells before or after kidney transplantation.
The technologies we use in our research group, give us a very comprehensive view of the phenotypic and functional characteristics of immune cells, which are based on large and complex data sets. In order to enable an efficient and user-friendly evaluation of these data sets in the future, we are working on the development of supporting bioinformatics algorithms.