Starting point for treatments in children with severe infections – healing practice

Adenovirus: Promising target identified for therapy

Adenoviruses are a group of pathogens that can cause a variety of diseases, including those affecting the respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, conjunctiva and cornea. These viruses are highly contagious and resilient. Researchers have now identified a promising target for treatment.

Researchers at the Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology (HPI) conducted a collaborative study using a 3D organoid model of the intestine to examine how natural killer cells (NK cells) recognize and kill intestinal epithelial cells infected with human adenovirus (HAdV). The scientists succeeded in identifying a new target that could be a possible starting point for immunotherapy in children with severe adenovirus infections after stem cell transplants.

Recognize and kill infected intestinal epithelial cells

Like in one Message of the HPI, human adenoviruses are one of the main causes of illness in children and immunocompromised people, especially after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplants.

Effective therapies for HAdV infections without serious side effects are currently not available. Against this background, researchers from the HPI’s “Virus Immunology” and “Viral Transformation” departments have now used a 3D organoid model of the intestine to investigate how natural killer cells recognize and kill HAdV-infected intestinal epithelial cells.

The scientists have shown that a cascade is set in motion in infected intestinal cells that enables improved detection and killing by KIR3DS1 + NK cells.

The researchers also discovered that children who received donor cells with the KIR3DS1 + / HLA-Bw4 + receptor during a stem cell transplant are better protected against a severe course of HAdV infection.

The study results were published in the journal “Science Immunology” released

Promising target for therapy development

“Intestinal organoids enable the investigation of interactions between human immune cells and tissue cells in inflammation and infections in the context of personalized medicine,” said Dr. Dr. Madeleine Altfeld-Bunders from the HPI department “Virus Immunology” and III. Medical Clinic of the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf.

“Our results suggest that the KIR3DS1 / HLA-F axis could be a promising target for the development of a treatment for severe HAdV reactivation after an allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant in children,” says the scientist.

Numerous scientific institutions were involved in the HPI-led study, including the University of Utrecht (Netherlands) and the associated University Medical Center (UMC), the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), the Princess Máxima Center for pediatric oncology (Netherlands), the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) and the Altona Children’s Hospital. (ad)

Author and source information

This text complies with the requirements of specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.


  • Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology: Human adenovirus: Promising target for treatment identified, (accessed: September 20, 2021), Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology
  • Johannes M. Jung, Wilhelm Ching, Martin E. Baumdick, Helga Hofmann-Sieber, Jens B. Bosse, Tobias Koyro, Kimberly J. Möller, Lucy Wegner, Annika Niehrs, Kristina Russu, Mareike Ohms, Wenli Zhang, Anja Ehrhardt, Kevin Duisters, Eric Spierings, Angelique Hölzemer, Christian Körner, Suze A. Jansen, Sven Peine, Ingo Königs, Marc Lütgehetmann, Daniel Perez, Konrad Reinshagen, Caroline A. Lindemans, Marcus Altfeld1, Mirjam Belderbos, Thomas Dobner & Madeleine J. Bunders: KIR3DS1 directs NK cell-mediated protection against human adenovirus infections; in: Science Immunology, (published: 17.09.2021), Science Immunology

Important NOTE:
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.


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