Irma van Die More on research

Glycobiology and Immune regulation

A great variety glycoproteins, glycolipids and polysaccharides covers the surfaces of cells, as well as the surfaces of many microorganisms. Glycan moieties within these compounds are critically involved in communication within the immune system, and in the dynamic interaction between the immune system and many pathogens. Increased knowledge of the molecular mechanisms by which glycans regulate immune responses is of pivotal importance for the understanding of (inappropriate) immune regulation in a variety of human diseases and may lead to novel  therapeutical approaches.
The major aim of this research group is to elucidate how parasitic helminths (worms) modulate immune responses. During the long coevolution of helminths with their hosts,  helminths have developed mechanisms that lead to 'tolerization' to prevent damage of their living-environment which allows them to survive. These properties may explain the beneficial effects of helminth infection on inflammation, as is observed in several clinical trials and animal studies. We investigate the molecular mechanisms by which different helminth molecules suppress pro-inflammatory responses, both in vitro using human dendritic cells and macrophages, and in vivo using a mouse model for multiple sclerosis (experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE)).