2.5 million euros European grant for vaccine against autoimmune diseases31 March 2020• PRESSRELEASE
Professor of Experimental Rheumatology René Toes has received a 2.5 million euro grant from the European Research Council (ERC). He is going to use the so-called Advanced Grant for research into curing autoimmune diseases using a vaccine.
Toes hopes to pave the way for curing autoimmune diseases by eliminating the pathogenic cells of the immune system with a personalised vaccine. Autoimmune disorders are caused by immune cells that attack the patient's own body. "We know that so-called auto-reactive B cells play a central role. These are immune cells that make antibodies against proteins on body cells and thus trigger a harmful immune response. If we succeed in eliminating auto-reactive B-cells, that should lead to a cure for the disease", Toes explains.
Rheumatism as prototype
Toes and his team use the autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis as a prototype, because a lot is already known about this disease. "We're going to identify the auto-reactive B cells at different stages of the disease. We then examine which characteristics of these B-cells we can use to develop a specific vaccine. Such a vaccine should activate the immune system to recognise the pathogenic B cells and selectively eliminate them. If the results are good, we will test whether this is successful in a phase I study."