Chronic inflammation and Immune System
Our research offers a unique opportunity in arthritic diseases to link inflammation and immune system based on a multidisciplinary approach which involves a two-way process going back and forth between the analysis of the genetic data, the dissection of immunological mechanisms and the potential transfer of the findings to the patient management. Three main pillars constitute the organization of the research program within the team: 1) Genomic analysis of the diseases with diagnostic and therapeutic applications, 2) Functional validation of targets, and 3) Animal models of the studied diseases.
Chronic inflammatory diseases (CID) result from perturbations of effector cells and soluble mediators of the immune system, on the one hand, and local target tissue abnormalities, on the other. The precise mechanisms leading to inflammation during the course of these diseases are still incompletely understood and the available treatments inadequate. The aim of our team is to increase understanding of mechanisms of chronic inflammation, by focusing mainly on CID. We have a double goal: the identification of new genes responsible for the development of these diseases, and functional characterization of their involvement.
A common feature of these diseases as well as of most other autoimmune diseases is the strong involvement of the HLA genes and more broadly of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). Because much remains to be learnt on the role of this region in autoimmunity, we are developing specific researches on this topic by focusing on spondylarthritis, autoimmune myasthenia gravis two diseases that show a strong association with the MHC. The team develops also research on Systemic sclerosis (SSc) an orphan disease characterized by vascular, immune and connective tissue anomalies. Among the many different immune-mediated rheumatic diseases, SSc stands out as a severely incapacitating and life-threatening disease, the pathogenesis of which is largely unknown and for which therapeutic options are few and insufficient.
Recently, a new group has joined our team and develops fundamental researches on the role of the protein AIRE in regulating the expression of a broad spectrum of auto-antigens in the thymus. By focusing on AIRE, the main research interest is to decipher the molecular mechanisms leading to the establishment of immune tolerance to self and therefore preventing autoimmune manifestations and diseases.