A new collaborative research centre (SFB) will be established in Heidelberg to investigate chronic inflammatory diseases. Scientists from the University of Heidelberg and the German Cancer Research Center will be funded with around 10 million euros for the research. Prof. Meuer from the University Hospital of Heidelberg will coordinate the new SFB.
Why do immune cells become hyperactive and trigger diseases? Does the immediate environment of the cells cause them to lose control and give rise to chronic inflammation in the respective organs?
The new collaborative research centre "Milieu-specific control of immunological reactivity" (SFB 938) coordinated by Prof. Dr. Stefan Meuer, Managing Director of the Institute of Immunology at the University Hospital Heidelberg, will focus on these questions. The SFB will receive funds totalling around 10 million euros for four years from the German Research Foundation (DFG). The funds will be available for 15 research projects led by scientists from the University Hospital Heidelberg and the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg.
The incidence of disorders that are caused by faults of the immune system such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatism, colitis and psoriasis is increasing. However, effective therapeutic concepts are still lacking and "we can only treat the symptoms, but have no strategies that would allow the curative treatment of such diseases," said Professor Meuer.
The immune system is the only mobile organ in the human body; immune cells patrol around the body and perceive what is happening in their environment by way of receptors located on their surface. The different milieus of the human body induce specific behaviour in the immune cells, in which the concentration of chemical compounds or antibodies also plays a role. The researchers intend to use the newly obtained knowledge about the interaction between immune cells and milieu to develop innovative approaches to specifically and individually affect immunological processes.The new SFB is the second research centre on the theme of immunology in Heidelberg. The SFB “Immunotolerance and its disorders”, which was also coordinated by Professor Meuer, ended in 2009 after having been funded by the DFG for the maximum of 12 years. The success and attractiveness of the SFB enabled the University of Heidelberg to appoint renowned immunologists to professorships in basic research and clinical subjects such as dermatology, oncology and rheumatology, which also play an important role in the new SFB.