The aim of the research is to understand the molecular and cellular immunological basis of host parasite interaction with particular emphasis on chronic helminth infections and more recently malaria. Population studies conducted in areas endemic for parasitic infections address questions regarding the development of immunity to parasitic infections on the one hand and the consequence of immune modulation on non- communicable inflammatory diseases, on the other. In collaboration with several European clinical groups it is has become possible to compare the changes in the innate and adaptive immune system of populations at second and third epidemiological transition. This approach is taken with the view that crucial steps in immune dysregulation can be studied and intervention points identified.
At the cellular and molecular level, the group focuses on understanding immune modulation using in vitro cellular cultures. The identification of immune modulatory molecules from helminths and their mode of action in terms of polarizing immune responses towards Th2 and T/Breg forms the core of the laboratory investigations carried out at LUMC. In addition, animal models that combine Schistosoma mansoni infection with model of airway allergy allow the investigation of the relationship between helminths and allergic disorders in systems amenable to manipulation that complement and allow in depth analysis of the human studies.