InnateFun – Stimulating antifungal innate immunity to combat fungal infections

Subproject: In vitro validation of immunomodulating compounds

Invasive fungal infections can cause serious complications in the clinic, especially in intensive care patients. Therefore, a quick diagnosis and targeted therapy are of great importance. A major part of invasive fungal infections are caused by yeast fungi Candida spp., which are often present as part of the normal microbial flora on skin and mucous membranes. Candida spp. cells also form biofilms on medical devices, such as catheters. This may promote the formation of antibiotic resistances.

The current treatment strategy focuses on inactivating the pathogens in the host. In contrast, the basic idea of the InnateFun project is to stimulate the innate immune system of the patients so that they themselves eliminate the infections. This can be achieved by modulation of immunoreceptors, which play a decisive role in antimicrobial immune defense. With InnateFun, the project consortium wants to create a "proof-of-principle" for a new type of antifungal that may also be applicable to other infectious diseases.

Fraunhofer IGB tests potential immune-modulators identified by the partners for their activity against immune receptors by means of cell-based assays and validates them in 3D infection models. Positively evaluated modulators are passed on to the partners for validation up to the animal model.

© Fraunhofer IGB

Scanning electron micrograph of Candida albicans.

Project information

Project title

InnateFun – Stimulating antifungal innate immunity to combat fungal infections


Project duration

April 2017 – March 2020


Project partners

  • KU Leuven, Leuven (Belgium)
  • The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem (Israel)
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB, Stuttgart (Germany) (Coordinator)
  • Medical University of Vienna, Vienna (Austria)
  • EMC microcollections GmbH, Tübingen (Germany)
  • University of Lille, Lille (France)




We would like to thank the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for funding the project "InnateFun", promotional reference 031L0124A, in the "Infect-ERA" program.