Infectious diseases are evolutionary processes. Via natural selection, pathogens such as viruses and bacteria continually undergo changes in their genome in order to adapt to their major challenges posed by the immune systems of the infected patient and the applied drug therapy.
For this reason, over time, pathogen strains take over that are resistant to the applied drug therapy, and the therapy has to be changed to control them. Selecting an appropriate drug therapy for a resistant strain is a complex problem that often requires computer support. In order to suggest effective drug therapies large volumes of virologic and clinical data are collected on a national and European basis. These data are then mined with bioinformatics methods. We engage in all stages of this process. Our focus lies on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) causing AIDS and on the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), but we also consider other pathogens such as the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) and the bacterium causing tuberculosis.
Furthermore we investigate epidemiological processes regarding other circulating viruses, such as respiratory pathogens. Another subject that is gaining relevance in our research is the immunological aspects of cancer therapy. Most cancer therapies strongly affect the immune system of the patient and thus have consequences regarding viral infections. As infections, cancer is an evolutionary process that submits to the techniques we have developed, in principle.