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Research news, University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), press release

Scientists at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) publish the latest findings from clinical and basic research. Here are some references to current publications, studies and other research projects.

Newly developed vaccine against MERS-CoV: Robust immunity even two years after booster vaccination

Along with SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is one of the three coronaviruses that have caused outbreaks of severe respiratory disease and deaths and have been classified by the World Health Organization as most dangerous to public health . In order to be prepared for future outbreaks, UKE scientists and partners at the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) have developed a recombinant, vector-based vaccine, MVA-MERS-S for short. In a phase I study from 2017 to 2019, this was tested in 23 healthy volunteers who were vaccinated twice four weeks apart. In a follow-up study, the influence of a third, late booster vaccination on the quality and persistence of the immune response against MERS was then examined.

The team of scientists around Dr. Anahita Fathi, Institute for Infection Research and Vaccine Development and Infectious Diseases Section of the 1st Medical Clinic of the UKE, was able to prove that the booster vaccination is well tolerated and causes an increased formation of binding and neutralizing antibodies. These results were also confirmed by another study by the team led by scientists Leonie Marie Weskamm and Dr. Christine Dahlke, who showed that the late booster vaccination led to a significant increase in the number and persistence of spike-specific memory B cells as well as binding IgG1 and neutralizing antibodies, which are still detected in the subjects two years after the third vaccination could.

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“After three vaccinations, a long-lasting immune response against the MERS-CoV spike protein was observed in all subjects. The new vaccine and the MVA vector have the potential to be used as a prophylactic vaccine or as a vaccine platform,” says Prof. Dr. Marylyn Addo, Director of the Institute for Infection Research and Vaccine Development.

Literatur: Anahita Fathi et al., Increased neutralization and IgG epitope identification after MVA-MERS-S booster vaccination against Middle East respiratory syndrome, Nature Communications, 2022

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-31557-0

Literatur: Leonie M. Weskamm et al., Persistence of MERS-CoV-spike-specific B cells and antibodies after late third immunization with the MVA-MERS-S vaccine, Cell Reports Medicine, 2022

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xcrm.2022.100685

Contact for questions: Dr. Anahita Fathi, Institute for Infection Research and Vaccine Development and Section for Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine of the 1st Medical Clinic and Polyclinic of the UKE, and Dr. Christine Dahlke, Institute for Infection Research and Vaccine Development

Clues discovered for the prevention of Alzheimer’s

Scientists from the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) in collaboration with researchers from Harvard Medical School Boston have identified indications of the pathology of dementia and possible treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. This was made possible by the brain of a woman from Medellin, Colombia, who belonged to a large family with a mutation in a gene called PSEN1. The PSEN1 E280A mutation is autosomal dominant, which means that only one copy of the gene is required to trigger Alzheimer’s disease. Carriers of the mutation typically present with Alzheimer’s symptoms in their 40s or 50s and soon die of the disease. In this woman, however, the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease did not appear until she was in her early 70s. To stave off the disease for three decades, in addition to the PSEN1 mutation, the woman also carried both copies of a mutation known as APOE3 Christchurch. The APOE2 variant appears to protect against Alzheimer’s dementia, while the APOE4 variant is associated with an increased risk of the disease. APOE3, the most common variant, is not usually associated with either a reduced or increased risk of Alzheimer’s.

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like dr Diego Sepulveda-Falla, head of research at the UKE’s Institute of Neuropathology, and the other scientists now report in the journal Acta Neuropathologica that the woman did indeed have pathological features of Alzheimer’s disease in her brain, but there were brain regions that were spared such as the frontal cortex, which is important for judgment, for example, or the hippocampus, which is important for memory and learning. “It is rare that we discover such surprising findings when examining brains with familial Alzheimer’s disease. I am confident that our molecular and pathological results will at least provide some avenues for research and hope for a successful treatment of this disease,” says Sepulveda-Falla.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the German Research Foundation (DFG), the Werner Otto Foundation and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), among others.

Literatur: Sepulveda-Falla, D. et al. Distinct tau neuropathology and cellular profiles of an APOE3 Christchurch homozygote protected against autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s dementia. Acta Neuropathologica. 2022.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00401-022-02467-8

Contact for questions: Dr. Diego Sepulveda-Falla, UKE Institute for Neuropathology

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