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Group Prof. Dr. I. Schmitz
Apoptosis, a certain form of programmed cell death, is essential for example during development of multicellular organisms and in the immune system of vertebrates since it is involved in the elimination of damaged, old, mutated or dangerous cells as well as in tissue homeostasis. Its deregulation may lead to various diseases such as Alzheimer, Parkinson and AIDS (too much apoptosis) or cancer (too little apoptosis). In the immune system, reduced apoptosis results in the accumulation of autoreactive T cells leading to impaired tolerance and autoimmunity. Furthermore, apoptosis plays an important role in the interplay between pathogens and the host cell. In this regard, immune cells may kill infected tissue cells by the induction of apoptosis. On the other hand, viruses and bacteria are able to inhibit host cell apoptosis to ensure their own survival and further spreading. The focus of our research is on the signaling pathways, which regulate apoptosis in cells of the immune system, e.g. in T cells.
Complement escape of cancer cells: Molecular mechanisms and strategies of intervention
Prof. Dr. Michael Kirschfink University of Heidelberg Institute for Immunology