Infectious diseases are a major cause of suffering, morbidity and mortality worldwide. In particular, the worldwide increase of multidrug-resistant pathogens and the constant emergence of new human pathogens pose immense challenges to modern medicine.
Pathogen-directed therapies often lead to successful treatment of the patient. However, antibiotic, antifungal or antiviral drugs cause the emergence of resistant germs. Moreover, current therapeutic approaches do not take into account the host immune response, which often contributes to the fatal outcome of many infectious diseases. Therefore, combating the pathogen alone is not always sufficient.
Re-thinking therapeutic options is therefore necessary. Treatment strategies that focus on optimizing the host response rather than eradicating the pathogen itself are urgently needed. In particular, processes that transform an initially harmless infection into a severe or chronic disease could be exploited for future therapeutic interventions, but have been little explored up to now.
The Collaborative Research Centre DECIDE (DECisions in Infectious DisEases) aims to identify molecular mechanisms within the host that control the course of infectious diseases. In particular, three key decisions that determine the clinical outcome and severity of infections are being investigated:
(1) containment versus active infection after initial contact
(2) active/acute versus persistant/chronic infection
(3) localized infection versus systemic spreading
DECIDE researchers' extensive experience with a repertoire of pathogens allows them to study the interactions between microbes, host barrier tissues, and the immune system, as well as the microbiota in a unique multi-layered systems approach. In this way, we aim to identify overarching common and pathogen-specific molecular decision points in infectious processes that can serve as the basis for new prevention and treatment approaches for infectious diseases.