The human immune system is a complex interaction of a multitude of cells, messenger substances and proteins. Numerous molecular biological processes are constantly taking place in our bodies to ensure that parasites and dangerous pathogens cannot cause any damage. Some of these signalling pathways are already well understood, but scientists are still largely in the dark about others. That is why researchers are working hard to better understand the immune system in order to develop more effective protective mechanisms or therapies against harmful organisms. At Max Planck, the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg is primarily responsible for this. But immunobiological or immunological research is also carried out at other MPIs, such as the MPI for Biophysics or the MPI for Colloids and Interfaces.

mersitem with and without RDR1

Salicylic acid and RNA interference confer stem cell immunity to pathogens more

First land plants possessed important branch of immune defense

Liverworts also have PTI receptors with which they can recognize intruders more

Immune cells in single file

A messenger molecule keeps dendritic cells together on their patrol through the tissue more

Colourful lotto balls in a winning drum

How the immune system learned to distinguish self from non-self more

Indispensable transporter of T cell biology

How a transport protein ensures maturation of signature mRNA of T-killer cells more

Mast cells in dermis

Mast cells deploy adhesion receptors to move inside tissues more

Intestinal bacteria trigger postoperative complications

Immune cells in the liver control bacteria spreading after major surgery more

Thymic cancer

Researchers clarify the origin of a rare disease more

Structure of wheat immune protein resolved

Findings are an important tool in the battle for food security more

Makrophage, die von Salmonellen(magenta) befallen ist. Farblich abgesetzt sind die Organellen (Mitochondrien in blau und Lysosomen in magenta) dargestellt.

How communication between lysosomes and mitochondria controls Salmonella growth in macrophages more

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Immune cells in single file

A messenger molecule keeps dendritic cells together on their patrol through the tissue more

Intestinal bacteria trigger postoperative complications

Immune cells in the liver control bacteria spreading after major surgery more

Secrets of thymus formation revealed

Max Planck researchers identify epithelial stem cells that control the growth of the thymus at different stages of life more

Fewer antibody diversity as we age

Studies in African killifish reveal how the immune system ages more

Covid-19 genetic risk variant protects against HIV

A Covid-19 variant inherited from Neanderthals reduces a person’s risk of contracting HIV by 27 percent more

Animal vaccines with self-spreading viruses

Vaccines for animals based on viruses that spread on their own are being developed in Europe and the U.S more

Scientific highlights 2021

Many publications by Max Planck scientists in 2021 were of great social relevance or met with a great media response. We have selected 12 articles to present you with an overview of some noteworthy research of the year more

Thomas Boehm receives the 2021 Heinrich Wieland Prize

The Max Planck researcher is honoured for groundbreaking contributions to our current understanding of the development and evolution of the immune system in vertebrates more

<span>Highly potent, stable nanobodies </span><span>stop SARS-CoV-2 </span>

Göttingen researchers have developed mini-antibodies that efficiently block the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and its dangerous new variants. more

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Fewer laboratory animals thanks to secondary nanobodies

Max Planck researchers develop sustainable alternative to the most widely used antibodies and their controversial production in animals more

Information filter for immune defence

Researchers are deciphering the structure of the MHC-I peptide-loading complex. more

Intestinal flora from twins is able to initiate multiple sclerosis

Genetically modified mice deliver first indication that human intestinal bacteria can trigger multiple sclerosis more

Epigenetics between the generations

Max Planck researchers prove that we inherit more than just genes more

Obesity alters a subpopulation of immune cells, thereby increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes more

Valuable waste

An enzyme keeps the parasites of the genome in check and turns them into an evolutionary advantage more

Obesity can sometimes be shut down more

Could a special immune system help protect bats from Ebola?

Bats frequently come into contact with infectious diseases, but surprisingly rarely suffer from them more

500 million year reset for the immune system

A single factor can reset the immune system of mice to a state likely similar to what it was 500 million years ago, when the first vertebrates emerged. more

New weapon of the immune system discovered

Aryl hydrocarbon receptor binds bacterial toxins and initiates their destruction more

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Immune System

Immune System

Video August 17, 2017

The lamprey is a special case amongst vertebrates because it has no thymus gland, where the T cells of the immune system normally learn to recognize pathogens. Max Planck scientist Thomas Böhm wants to know how the lamprey copes with bacteria and viruses. This knowledge could help to improve the treatment of immune disorders in the future. more

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