Insights and Highlights
Prof. Minka Breloer's research group is investigating, among other things, which immune reactions worm parasites cause in humans and how they manage to disrupt their immune defences: Many intestinal parasites, such as hookworms, bore through the skin of humans and, after migrating through the tissue, enter the intestine via the lungs. However, humans also organise their defences across tissues: for example, body cells release alarm signals that activate certain immune cells in the lungs. Via intermediaries, these finally induce immune cells in the intestine to better reject the worm.
Nevertheless, many worms prolong their survival in humans by weakening their immune defences. This also has an effect on protective vaccinations. For example, flu vaccines worked worse in worm-infected mice than in healthy mice - not only in acute worm infections, but even after they had healed. This should be taken into account when developing vaccines. The WHO estimates that one in four people is still affected by a worm infection.