FAU researchers investigate resolution of inflammation

Prof. Dr. Georg Schett, head of the Department of Medicine 3. (Image: FAU/Erich Malter)
Prof. Dr. Georg Schett, head of the Department of Medicine 3. (Image: FAU/Erich Malter)

A new FAU Collaborative Research Centre is being funded with 14.1 million euros from the German Research Foundation (DFG)

Inflammation is the body’s response to any form of tissue stress or damage. In FAU’s new Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 1181 ‘Schaltstellen zur Auflösung von Entzündung’ (switching points for resolving inflammation) researchers from various areas of medicine and biology are investigating the basic mechanisms underlying the resolution of inflammatory responses and their clinical relevance. The German Research Foundation (DFG) is funding the Collaborative Research Centre with approximately 14.1 million euros.

Millions of people suffer from chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease or asthma, many of whom are young people. As the disease progresses their quality of life is considerably impaired by increasing pain. In around 50% of all cases, treatment with anti-inflammatory medicines yields good results. As these diseases are incurable, however, patients have to take medication for the rest of their lives.

‘The body needs inflammation to survive. Inflammation is essential to defend the body against unwanted intruders, repair tissue damage and restore balance. However, when no longer needed, the inflammatory processes should be turned off again,’ explains Prof. Dr. Georg Schett from the Department of Medicine 3 at Universitätsklinikum Erlangen, who heads the new Collaborative Research Centre. ‘However, the mechanism behind turning off inflammation has not yet been clarified. We assume that in these diseases the resolution of inflammation is defective and the inflammatory process develops a mechanism of its own, turning the body’s healing response into a severe disease.’ The Collaborative Research Centre is investigating the question as to how this resolution of the inflammatory response works.

SFB 1181, now that it has been approved by the German Research Foundation, is the first consortium worldwide which is working on deciphering the mechanisms underlying the resolution of inflammation. Over the past few years, FAU has built up skills and expertise in the areas of inflammation research and immunology by appointing experts from the respective fields.

Due to the close collaboration with Optical Imaging Centre Erlangen (a collaboration between FAU and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light) all researchers have access to state-of-the-art microscopy technology. ‘We are delighted that with its funding the German Research Foundation is not only acknowledging our efforts but also making it possible to explore new avenues in research on inflammatory diseases and their treatment,’ says Prof. Schett. ‘This means that FAU will be able to establish itself as one of the leading universities in inflammation research worldwide.’

Further information:

Prof. Dr. Georg Schett
Phone: +49 9131 8539109