Research Focus & Cooperations of the WG Volk

Here you find an overview of the current research projects and the respective cooperations.

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Development and validation of new immunodiagnostic assays

The aim is to develop and validate new immunodiagnostic assays with a special focus on cellular immunology assays.
One example is the assessment of monocytic HLA-DR expression as a marker for cellular immunocompetence. With the newly developed, better and standardized quantifiable assay (Quantibrite HLA-DR), the results ​​can now be compared internationally (in cooperation with Becton-Dickinson).

Applications for this marker can be found in intensive care medicine. A reduction in monocyte HLA-DR expression levels correlates with limited immune competence of post-traumatic patients, leading to an increased risk of infection. The biomarker would potentially be suitable for pre-emptive therapy. In already established sepsis, an extreme form of inhibition - an "immune paralysis" – is associated with poor prognosis. Without recovery of the marker patients do not survive.
Even for immunocompromised patients (transplantation, autoimmunopathies), the marker is very well suited for guiding immunosuppression in infectious complications.

Other cellular functional assays that have been developed:

  • Modification of polyclonal and antigen-induced T lymphocyte proliferation (LTT) for the detection of T-cell competence or T-cell sensitization
  • Detection of viral antigen-reactive T lymphocytes using peptide libraries (in cooperation with JPT)
  • Bedside test for the quantification of cytokines (in cooperation with Milenia biotech)
  • Functional test of T-lymphocyte cytokine secretion (in cooperation with Becton-Dickinson
  • Flow cytometry panel (in cooperation with Beckman Coulter)

Monitoring of transplant patients

The objective is to identify subgroups that, on the basis of an immunological risk profile, are associated with differentiated immunosuppression. This is to avoid the over-suppression of patients, but also to make "weaning protocols” safer (discontinuation of CNI, tolerance induction, etc.).

In addition to the close networking with the interdisciplinary working group on nephrology (Research Unit Nephrology and Transplantation) and the working group Sawitzki, there is a well established partnership with the European and American Immune Tolerance Network (ITN).
Within the framework of this network, molecular biological immunomonitoring is performed on patient samples after a liver, bone marrow or kidney transplantation. This involves the development and validation of new biomarkers for the identification of patients who are more or less suitable for "weaning protocols", as well as the monitoring of the weaning.

Monitoring cell-based therapies

The aim is to identify biomarkers for monitoring cell-based therapies. This is done in close cooperation with the BIH Center for Regenerative Therapies (BCRT).

Cell therapies in development:

  • Adoptive T cell therapy against viruses / tumors (EBV, CMV ...)
  • Adoptive therapy with regulatory T cells (transplantation, autoimmunity)
  • Immunomodulatory function of stem cells and stem cell derivatives

Contact details

Prof. Dr. med.
Hans-Dieter Volk
Director & Speaker BCRT 

t: +49 30 450 524 062 (Secretariat)
f: +49 30 450 524 962