The junior research group led by Dr Angelika Riemer has set itself the goal of developing a functional therapeutic vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) infections and against HPV-induced tumours. While prophylactic vaccines induce the production of antibodies to prevent an infection with the pathogen, therapeutic vaccines activate the body’s cellular immunity to eliminate an already existing infection. In most cases, HPV infections are harmless, however, cancer may develop with infections of high-risk types of HPV that are persistent over a long period of time. In order to develop a vaccine against such infections, it is necessary to find appropriate so-called “epitopes”. These are parts of the virus that are visible to the immune system on the surface of infected cells. A vaccine can then be used to induce the production of specific immune cells to target these epitopes. Angelika Riemer’s group uses highly sensitive mass spectrometry methods to identify appropriate HPV epitopes.