18. April 2019

ImmunSinn: the origin of health Immunsinn: the origin of health

An exhibition showing milestones in the field of immunology at the University of Bonn’s Museum from the 2nd of May to the 30th of June 2019

The exhibition titled ImmunSinn, is aimed at bringing immunology closer to the people covering the topics of immunotherapy, Alzheimer’s disease, the influence of western diet on our health, parasitic diseases and technological advances in immunology. On display are photos, 3D models, parasitic worms and informative posters that will take you from the 1860s to the present day.

Consulting Scientists
Consulting Scientists - Prof. Joachim L. Schultze (LIMES Institute) and Dr. Anette Christ (Institute of Innate Immunity), scientists of the Cluster of Excellence of the University of Bonn © Volker Lannert / Uni Bonn 2019

The exhibition looks into some milestones in the field of immunotherapy, comparing the late 19th, the early 20th and the 21st centuries. We feature the first doctor who tried to harness the power of the immune system to fight cancer by using bacterial infection. Unknown to most people, he was a professor of surgery at the University Hospital Bonn. In 1867, Professor of Surgery, Carl David Wilhelm Busch, in his quest to cure a patient with an inoperable tumor of the neck, knowingly and purposefully exposed her to bacterial infection. This was after the observation that an episode of bacterial skin infection called erysipelas caused tumors to shrink. His treatment was at first successful and he was able to reduce the tumor size, but unfortunately, after a short while it grew back and the patient later succumbed to cancer. We also feature 21st century Busch-like immunotherapy, but more refined, this time using nucleic acids that mimic viral infections to induce a specific immune response that fights cancers.

During the late 19th century some doctors used live bacteria as a way to shrink and treat tumors. At that point in time, the knowledge on why and how this worked was not known. By the early 1900s, the use of live bacteria was replaced with its products. Since then, the field of immunology has grown and more information on host – pathogen interactions are now available. This has enabled scientists to move from directly using live bacteria organisms, to the production of specific molecules that are recognized by immune cells in the same way as pathogens.

In developing countries, the most common causes of death are infectious diseases, while the developed nations have more lifestyle associated disease. As a representative disease of the western lifestyle, an atherosclerosis model is displayed which compares a healthy versus a clogged artery. For the developing world a collection of parasitic diseases that are endemic to the tropics and subtropics are displayed.
Prof. Schultze: “The exhibition looks into the developments that have taken place in the field of immunology over the last 100 years. It also gives a peak into the future, from using microscopes, like the 100 year old one on display, to the latest technology of single cell genomics”.

The exhibition has been put together by a team of scientists from ImmunuSensation2, like Dr. Anette Christ and Prof. Joachim Schultze (photographed at the exhibition), researcher from the Institute for Medical Humanities and compiled by Dr. Patricia Korir with support and advice from the speakers of the Cluster.

For those who would like to know more on specific topics in the exhibition, there will be public lectures inside the museum on the below listed topics and dates at 6 PM:

• 23rd May, Dr. Anette Christ, The effects of western diet on our health, Institute of Innate Immunity, University Hospital Bonn
• 6th June, Prof. Dr. med. Joachim Schultze, Single cell genomics: from one cell to the patient, LIMES, University of Bonn
• 13th June, Prof. Dr. med. Michael Heneka, Alzheimer’s disease, Department of Neurodegenerative Diseases and Gerontopsychiatry at the University of Bonn University Hospital Bonn

About ImmunoSensation: ImmunoSensation is one of the six Excellence Clusters of the University of Bonn and the only Immunology Cluster in Germany. It is funded under the DFG Excellence Strategy.
The exhibition is part of ImmunoSensation’s public outreach program that aims at bringing immunology closer to the people, in a form that they can understand.

Dr. Patricia Jebett Korir
ImmunoSensation Cluster of Excellence, University of Bonn
Press and Public Relations
Venusberg - Campus 1, 53127 Bonn,
+49 228 287-51283

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