Infection and Immunity

Infection and Immunity

Infectious diseases - such as Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) Influenza (the flu) and Sepsis - are diseases caused by micro-organisms (i.e., bacteria, viruses, parasites, or yeasts). At present, for the laboratory diagnosis of an infectious disease (i.e., identification of the causative  agent and determination of the antibiotic susceptibility), conventional culture techniques are usually used. The disadvantage of these methods is that it takes at least 72 hours before (preliminary) data as to the causative agent is available. For fastidious micro-organisms, it takes even longer.

It is therefore vital that we develop a rapid, reliable, easy-to-perform method for the detection of causative agents of infectious diseases and their antibiotic susceptibility. In other words, the major challenges for this molecular methodology are:

  • to rapidly identify causative agents and to provide tailor-made treatments based on antibiotic resistance genes of the micro-organism involved and genetic risk profiles of patients;
  • to quantify the putative micro-organisms – since the presence of micro-organisms does not always indicate that these micro-organisms are also the causative agent of the infection – which can reveal the effectiveness of (antimicrobial) therapy.

Molecular methods which meet the requirements mentioned above (rapidly, quantitatively, and easy-to-perform identification) are applicable to all infectious diseases, but priority has been given to those which:

  • have significant impact on morbidity and mortality (e.g. Sepsis);
  • cause yearly local and/or (inter)national epidemics (e.g. Bird Flu);
  • have a high frequency of occurrence (e.g. respiratory infections, sexually transmitted diseases and gastrointestinal infections).

In case of (threatening) epidemics, rapid identification of the causative agent is of the utmost importance to halt the spread of the disease.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Stress can worsen rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Therefore, many people with rheumatoid arthritis seek ways to manage stress as part of addressing the daily pain and inflammation that comes from rheumatoid arthritis. You can control your reaction to stress by many stress management techniques.
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RA is a heterogeneous disease, with large variation in the pathogenetic processes taking place within an individual patient and between patients. Patient-tailored treatment is therefore needed. And that is where the CTMM TRACER project comes in.


Vaccines are essential for protection against seasonal and pandemic influenza.  The CTMM AMPVACS consortium aims to  introduce a new vaccine technology platform that will allow the introduction of protective CD8+ T cell responses against conserved influenza A determinants.


The CTMM MARS project aims to generate tools that provide rapid and accurate information about an individual patient suffering from sepsis, including which microorganism is responsible for the infection and the severity and stage of the patient’s immune response. These tools should be easy to use, at or close to the patient’s bedside, and should provide rapid information to the physician about how to treat each individual patient in the best way.