Institute of Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology

Latest / July. 2021

Funding in the millions to combat river blindness


IMMIP receives $1.48 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the development of new technology to better combat river blindness

IMMIP, together with the international IT consultancy Capgemini and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) in Geneva, researchers are developing technology to better combat river blindness. Artificial intelligence will be used to machine-read sections of worm nodules in tissue, enabling drug testing to be standardized and significantly accelerated.

The adult female worms, up to 30 centimeters long, usually live in nodules (onchocercomes) in the subcutis; they are fertilized by males that migrate around in the body. In the onchocercomes, the females bear worm larvae (microfilariae). "This whole process can be detected under the microscope by looking at histological samples," says Prof. Dr. Achim Hörauf, director of the Institute for Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology (IMMIP) at the University Hospital Bonn (UKB). The effect of new drugs that can inhibit or kill the worms at different stages must therefore also be confirmed using histological samples. Continue reading...

IMMIP Receives USAID Grant for Development of New Diagnostics to Eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases

Currently, national onchocerciasis programs are struggling with a lack of high-quality diagnostics that perform well in low prevalence settings. Nucleic-acid based diagnostic tests are particularly well suited for use in low prevalence settings because they tend to offer very high sensitivity and specificity.  Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) methods generally produce highly reliable results, however, PCR requires highly trained personnel and expensive equipment. Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assays are attractive alternatives for use in field-settings because they do not require highly specialized equipment and they offer a rapid, visual read out at a much lower cost than PCR.

IMMIP's researchers Dr. Kenneth Pfarr and Prof. Achim Hoerauf ( Institute's Director) will collaborate with IMMIP’s long time partner Prof. Samuel Wanji (Buea Cameroon) and Clotilde Carlow of New England Biolabs to work on "Onchocerciasis LAMP assay to optimize diagnostics and sampling strategies for low-prevalence settings in Cameroon". 

Read full press release here

Risks and Side Effects of Irrigation with Wastewater

Water scarcity, the increasing food requirements of a growing world population and urbanization are leading to the use of wastewater for irrigation in agriculture in numerous regions of the world. This conserves resources, but also entails risks: Through wastewater, antibiotics, disinfectants and many other substances, together with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, end up in the fields, in the soil - and ultimately in our food. However, there is currently no basis for assessing the extent and relevance of these risks and how to minimize them by treating wastewater. To provide this basis, the German Research Foundation (DFG) is funding a new research group led by Justus Liebig University Giessen (JLU) with around 2.5 million euros for an initial four years.

Involved from the University of Bonn are Dr. Melanie Braun and Prof. Dr. Wulf Amelung from the Department of General Soil Science and Soil Ecology and Prof. Dr. Gabriele Bierbaum, Institute of Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology.

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DAAD funds eight new Global Centers for Climate and Health

Global challenges can only be mastered through cooperation. This belief is the basis of the DAAD’s programme to promote the establishment of eight Global Centres dedicated to climate & the environment, as well as health & pandemic prevention, using funding from the Federal Foreign Office. One of the four funded Global Health and Pandemic Preparedness Centers is the German-West African Centre for Global Health and Pandemic Prevention (G-WAC) Ghana (+westafrican region).

About G-WAC:

Topic: Global pandemics and their key drivers, as well as essential elements of resilient health systems under the One Health approach 
Institution: Berlin School of Public Health (Technical University Berlin and Charité Berlin) and University of Bonn (Institute of Medical Microbiology Immunology and Parasitology and the Institute for Hygiene and Public Health)
Partner: Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and others

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Research Alliance Proposes Strategies for Developing Antibiotics

New antibiotics are needed to head off a health crisis due to antimicrobial resistance. However, investment in research into new antibiotics is much lower than what is need. The International Research Alliance for Antibiotic Discovery & Development (IRAAD) has published a white paper on strategies to strengthen antimicrobial research.  Continue reading

Symposium on Interdisciplinary Research in Mathematics and Life Sciences

IMMIP Scientists Dr. Janina Kuehlwein and PhD student Barbara Grützmacher  presented their interdisciplinary projects during the Symposium on Interdisciplinary Research in Mathematics and Life Sciences.  Dr. Kuehlwein’s  topic was titled “Challenges in the development of an artificial intelligence (AI) for histological analysis in clinical trials”.  Continue reading...

Achim Hoerauf Recognized as Expert in Onchocerciasis

Onchocerciasis, or river blindness, is the world's second leading infectious disease cause of blindness. In marking the World Sight Day on the 14th of October 2021, Prof. Achim Hoeraf, Director IMMIP was named among the leading experts on Onchocerciasis. He is the leading expert in Germany. Also named on the list are IMMIP scientists Dr. Kenneth Pfarr, Prof. Marc Hübner and Dr. Ute Klarmann-Schulz. Expertscape

Kigali Summit 2021 - A Milestone in the Fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases

At a joint event organised by the Rwanda Department of the Rhineland-Palatinate State Government and the DNTDs on the occasion of the Kigali Summit on Malaria and NTDs in June 2021, NTDs were the focus of discussions. Prof. Dr. Achim Hörauf, speaker of the DNTDs, Director IMMIP, explained some disease patterns of NTDs and placed the Kigali Summit in the context of the numerous activities in the field of global health policy. Continue reading...