DFG funding for FAU research group
FAU scientists research rheumatoid arthritis and its causes
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of the most common chronic inflammatory autoimmune diseases, affecting approximately one percent of the population worldwide. Like other autoimmune diseases, the patients’ immune system mistakenly turns against their own body, attacking bones and joints. Despite considerable advances in treatment, a cure has still not been found. A research group at Universitätsklinikum, FAU, Erlangen now hopes to gain a deeper understanding of the preliminary phases of RA. The German Research Foundation (DFG) is funding the Erlangen-based project within the framework of a DFG research group.
Finding the causes
The ‘Pathways triggering autoimmunity and defining onset of early rheumatoid arthritis’ (FOR2886 PANDORA) research group intends to investigate the reasons behind an autoimmune reaction attacking the musculoskeletal system in RA patients. The FAU researchers led by Prof. Dr. Gerhard Krönke, Professor of Translational Immunology, and Dr. Mario Zaiss from the Chair of Internal Medicine III hope to gain a better understanding of the illness in order to identify new approaches for treating patients. One central aspect they will be researching is the modulating influence of natural gut flora as well as various external factors such as diet, alcohol and salt consumption and the affect they have on our immune system, in the hope of discovering what triggers this autoimmune disease.
Searching for a cure
Understanding the illness and how it works at the smallest, in other words molecular or cellular, level should not only allow new, more effective and tailored treatment strategies to be developed, it is hoped that it will even pave the way to finding a cure. Prof. Krönke explains: ‘Within the framework of PANDORA, we have planned a study in which we will give patients a combination of several therapeutic proteins, known as biological agents, in the hope of being able to reprogramme the patients’ immune system which has turned against their own body. In the future, we hope that we are able to better treat the disease over the long-term.
The DFG has awarded funding for PANDORA for two three year periods. Four million euros has initially been provided for three years, to fund a total of 10 sub-projects at FAU and Universitätsklinikum Erlangen.
Prof. Dr. Gerhard Krönke
Phone: +49 9131 85 43012