Celluloepidemiology is a term invented to describe an interdisciplinary approach combining unique cellular immune responses against pathogens on a population level with mathematical modeling, thereby generating unique and otherwise not obtainable multidimensional T-cell profiles.
CELLULO-EPI will develop and use such a highly innovative model to simulate how T-cells against pathogens evolve in a synthetic population as a function of age, gender, time since infection and other relevant variables. This model will be parameterized and fitted by cross sectional T-cell data against a wide set of pathogens from 500 individuals (sampled again after 1 year), unique data from individuals with known first infections with dengue and measles and longitudinal data from individuals re-exposed to chickenpox and parvovirus B19.
The insights of CELLULO-EPI will be pivotal for public health. One important example: Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) causes chickenpox but also shingles after VZV reactivation. Vaccination can prevent chickenpox, but the predicted increase in shingles incidence has blocked chickenpox vaccination in many EU-countries. Indeed, re-exposure to chickenpox is hypothesized to protect against shingles through boosting of T-cells. Unfortunately, none of the available epidemiological or immunological tools allow for adequate validation of the boosting hypothesis. However, CELLULO-EPI will be able to solve this persisting VZV vaccination dilemma. Furthermore, CELLULO-EPI will also redefine infectious disease epidemiology, for example by allowing us to back-calculate the time since last exposure.