The DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) has now extended the funding of a research association which is located at the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin. The Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) will receive funding in excess of ten million Euros over the next four years. The aim of this cooperation is the development of new treatment methods which can be employed to treat autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis with as little side effects as possible and on a permanent basis.
A total of 19 groups from the Charité, the German Rheumatism Research Centre, the Freie Universität Berlin, and the Max Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine Berlin-Buch are working together in the SFB 650 "Cellular approaches to a suppression of unwanted immune reactions". The interdisciplinary project groups research new treatment possibilities which make use of the cellular regulatory mechanisms under the leadership of Prof. Hans-Dieter Volk. Prof. Volk is the director of the Institut für Medizinische Immunologie at the Charité as well as of the Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies (BCRT). On the one hand, they are attempting to influence cellular signalling pathways in such a way that pathological immune responses are suppressed in a specific manner and immunological balance is restored. The SFB 650 has already achieved clinical success in in this regard in patients with severe of rheumatic diseases and foreign organ transplant. On the other hand, the association partners are searching for possibilities to generate, strengthen or transfer the suppressive, regulatory cells of the immune system - the so called peacekeepers of the body.
"Perhaps soon, the healing of patients with chronic inflammatory diseases will not be only a vision anymore. Maybe we will find a way to avoid unspecific, immunosuppressive medications after a transplantation, which are associated with considerable side effects", hopes Prof. Volk, spokesperson of the SFB 650. Autoimmune diseases are chronic diseases which are caused by undesired immune reactions of the body. Examples are rheumatoid arthritis, type I diabetes and multiple sclerosis, but also allergies and rejections of organ transplants. For the most part, these illnesses which cannot yet be cured are very painful and lead to severe health threats.