Acute lower respiratory tract infections represent an increasing public health problem worldwide, resulting in a disease burden greater than that of any other infection with mortality rates unchanged over the past 50 years. Likewise, the lack of any therapeutic treatment for the most devastating clinical course of pulmonary infection, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), and an unacceptably high mortality rate, underscore an urgent need for novel, effective therapeutic approaches. Both microbial attack (bacteria, viruses, fungi) and non-microbial inflammatory injury (aspiration, inhalation of toxic gases) may cause Acute Lung Injury (ALI) with severe respiratory failure. The goal of this Disease Area is to decipher the molecular mechanisms underlying the spread of inflammation into the alveoli and to understand the cellular and molecular signaling pathways leading to dissolution of inflammation and repair of the alveolar epithelium integrity. Based on this knowledge, new therapeutic concepts are being developed to attenuate lung tissue damage and promote tissue repair and organ regeneration.
Dr. Sylvia Weißmann (UGMLC)