Immunology Day at Friedensplatz

Bonn University’s Cluster of Excellence presents its work

Im Zelt des ExzellensClusters der Universität Bonn konnten die Besucher mit den inneren Organen wie Leber und Lunge auf Tuchfühlung gehen. Es ging um die Immunabwehr an diesem Tag.

In the tent of the University of Bonn’s Cluster of Excellence, visitors could get up close to internal organs such as the liver and lungs. The day was about immune defences.

Bonn. Bonn University’s Cluster of Excellence presented its work on immune defence in Bonn’s Friedenplatz. Visitors could look at organs by simply walking through them.

On Immunology Day, the Cluster of Excellence ImmoSensation – an association of over 30 scientists from Bonn University – presented itself in front of the Old Town Hall in Bonn. Models of organs that could be walked through showed lifestyle diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver, asthma and other liver and lung diseases.

“This day is all about education and prevention,” said doctor Elisabeth Jurack from the Excellence Cluster. Hardly anyone knows how important the immune system is for the internal organs. If it gets disrupted, for example through incorrect nutrition, it can lead to a sort of “burnout”.

Microbiologist Zeinab Abdullah explained that fatty liver can destroy the function of the organ in the long term. “The immune cells are destroyed resulting in inflammation,” says Abdullah. This is how, for example, a seasonal flu can lead to multi-organ failure in a person with a weakened immune system, because the cells’ defences no longer function as they should. Worldwide, 1.2 million people die from cirrhosis of the liver, an estimated 170,000 in Europe.

Cluster of Excellence researches possible treatments for cirrhosis of the liver

It is not only overweight people who are affected. Slim people can also suffer from fatty liver, for example if they tend to eat fatty foods, explains Abdullah. “A balanced diet and lots of movement are key,” says Nicolas Wernert, the dean of the medical faculty at Bonn University.

The visitors are amazed. Wide-eyed, they look into the accessible lungs and liver. Who knows what the body looks like from the inside? One woman slowly strokes the raised areas on a part of the lung that stand out clearly as metastases. Another carefully walks through the model.

The Cluster of Excellence carries out research and searches for the best possible treatments. Abdullah explained that one of the priorities is research into cirrhosis of the liver. Researchers in the association discovered that intestinal bacteria that migrate to the liver during cirrhosis of the liver, damage the immune defences, which can be fatal. The scientists are trying to understand how cirrhosis of the liver affects the immune cells necessary for effective defence, in order to uncover the mechanisms and develop appropriate therapies.

Original text: Susanne Wächter. Translation: kc