Otto Loewi Forschungszentrum

Research focus: The role of eosinophils in allergic and inflammatory diseases

PI: Eva Sturm

Focus: As effector cells of innate immunity, eosinophils are implicated in host defense mechanisms against infections. Furthermore, eosinophils exert a pro-inflammatory and destructive role in Th2 immune responses associated with allergic and chronic inflammation. About 5–10% of all asthmatics suffer from severe or uncontrolled asthma with an incomplete response to standard medication, an asthma phenotype which is often associated with airway eosinophilia. Our primary focus is to characterize novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of eosinophilic inflammatory disorders.

Network: In vitro and in vivo studies unraveling the mechanisms of eosinophilic inflammation are performed at the Division of Pharmacology. Cross-team collaborations exist with the research groups of Akos Heinemann (biology of lipid mediators), Rudolf Schicho (histology and fluorescence microscopy), and Gunther Marsche (lipid metabolism) from the Division of Pharmacology. Further collaborations exist with Gunter Sturm from the Department of Dermatology and Venerology (samples from allergic patients) and Martin Stradner from the Division of Rheumatology and Immunology (samples from rheumatic patients).


The role of Janus kinase inhibitors in allergic and asthmatic diseases

  • Janus kinases are crucial components of cytokine signaling pathways which are involved in the regulation of many cellular functions. Cytokine-induced persistent or dysregulated Janus kinase signaling, however, is maladaptive and contributes to many inflammatory diseases. As an advantage over biologics, which bind to extracellular cytokine receptors and thereby suppress the activity of one specific cytokine, Janus kinase inhibitors prevent the intracellular signaling transduction of several cytokines. In this project we investigate the efficacy of Janus kinase inhibitors in the treatment of experimental eosinophilic asthma.
  • Duration: 2017-2021
  • Funded by: Med Uni Graz, Pfizer Inc., Wien
  • Project partner: Akos Heinemann (Division of Pharmacology)

Pharmacological regulation of the molecular clock

  • It is very common for asthma symptoms to get worse at night and in the early hours of the morning. Thereby, not only pulmonary function, but also the immune system exhibits a robust circadian rhythm with increased nocturnal levels of pro-inflammatory mediators. Thus, in this project we investigate the effects of pharmacological modulation of the cellular molecular clock on eosinophilic inflammation in vitro and in vivo.
  • Duration: 2020-2023
  • Funded by: FWF
  • Project partners: Akos Heinemann (Division of Pharmacology; Med Uni Graz), Leigh Marsh (Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Lung Vascular Research, Graz), Gerd Geißlinger (Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany)

Division of Pharmacology Mag.a
Eva Sturm  
T: +43 316 385 74103