Edinburgh Infectious Diseases
EID logo 2019

Introduction to the Leiden summer school

The summer school on "Immune modulation in human and animal infections: impact on health, disease and therapy" is being held at Leiden University Medical Centre from 8 - 12 July 2019.

Immune modulation in human and animal infections

The immune system provides defense against microbial pathogens. However, pathogens exploit the host immune system for their own benefit and modulate or evade immune responses that would otherwise eradicate them. This relationship has evolved during our evolutionary life span and for the larger part of mankind infectious diseases were the biggest threat and the main cause of death. However, not all microbes are pathogenic.

On the contrary, some commensal microbes have an important role in programming and educating the immune system to distinguish between harmful and harmless. Nowadays, in our modern society infectious diseases are not as deadly anymore, due to better understanding, extensive vaccination programs, well-working antimicrobial treatments and much improved surveillance.

Still, novel infectious agents increasingly appear in the human population and the need for innovative solutions is as urgent as ever, especially since emergency of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Additionally, we are now facing a different epidemic: hyperinflammatory disorders, such as auto-immunity, allergies, asthma, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and obesities. In addition, we encounter an increasing antimicrobial resistance in bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. 

Need for multidisciplinary approach

Investigating the shared principles of immunity and tolerance that underlie infectious diseases, hyperinflammatory and metabolic disorders, immunologists and microbiologists are actively learning from each other and using this knowledge in the critical development of vaccines, immunotherapies and other new therapeutic approaches.

Immunotherapy and vaccinology are cross-disciplinary subjects and we need to bridge principles of immune evasion by infectious agents and inflammatory flares found in modern society diseases to generate cross fertilization.

People from diverse research, business and medical backgrounds should be brought together and collectively use their skills to tackle the problems of modern and future societies and generate novel (chemical) drugs, vaccines, novel immunotherapies and microbiota interventions against emerging infections and inflammatory diseases.