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Improving the understanding and treatment of inflammatory diseases

Over the next four years, the international research project SciFiMed aims to develop a biosensor to help better characterize inflammatory reactions in the body. This visual project hopes to improve the diagnosis and treatment of various types of inflammatory diseases. SciFiMed is an open FET project funded by a Horizon 2020 grant of € 3.5 million from the European Commission. It is led by a consortium of eight European partners from four different countries. Prof. Dr. Diana Poli at the University of Marburg was commissioned to coordinate SciFiMed (“Screening Inflammation to Enable Personalized Medicine”).

Professor Pauli describes the interdisciplinary project in the following way: “A weakened immune system that is unable to fight infection or cause autoimmune diseases places great pressure on sufferers. SciFiMed combines the latest diagnostic technology with basic immunology research that will be implemented in a new type of biosensor. Created from nanomaterials. ” Experts from the fields of genetics, immunology, nephrology, chemistry and ophthalmology are working together at SciFiMed to develop this biosensor.

For example, patients with macular degeneration, an eye disease that affects nearly 15 million elderly people across Europe, can benefit from a biosensor. Approximately half of those affected will lose most of their visual field during the course of the disease. Until now, this disease can only be partially treated, similar to certain types of chronic kidney disease and bacterial infections. The common denominator between these diseases is a defect in the regulation of the supplementary system, which is a component of the immune system. Professor Pauli explains: “At present, we know very little about the role that the supplementary system plays in the pathogenesis of these diseases – and it is very little to effectively prevent, diagnose or treat disease.”

Current research indicates that complementary factor H and related proteins play a critical role in the development of systemic and organ-specific diseases. The action of factor H has been well studied, but the proteins associated with it are still largely unknown – as is the case with their various pathogenic mechanisms.

“This is where our research project comes in,” says Professor Polley. “Our group of eight partners is focused on determining the effect of proteins associated with complementary factor H on disease development.” The results are then used to create a multiplexed detection system that can simultaneously examine functional activity and the amount of all seven protein family members targeted in the patient sample. Newly developed diagnostic technology will be available to assist physicians in the future either in their medical practice or in hospital.

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Participating institutions:

The University of Marburg, which coordinates the project, the University in Regensburg, the Complutense University of Madrid, Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, the University Medical Center Groningen and the Sanquin Healthcare Facility (Netherlands) as well as the biotechnology companies Hycult participate Biotech (Netherlands) and Microcoat Biotechnologie GmbH (Germany) ) In the research project. The international and multidisciplinary team is promoting immunological research and aims to enable new treatment methods and new approaches in drug development.

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