Autoimmunity and Autoinflammation

The first Day of Immunology (DoI), an initiative created by the European Federation of Immunological Societies (EFIS), was celebrated on 29th April 2005, gathering together immunologists across Europe to bring immunology to the attention of the public. Due to its great success, DoI has been celebrated annually on the 29th April worldwide since 2007. The purpose of DoI is to strengthen public awareness of immunology and encourage immunologists to explore the art of public relations in order to convey their knowledge to an audience outside of the scientific community.

This year DoI is dedicated to increasing global awareness and promoting the benefits of immunology research, particularly with respect to autoimmunity and autoinflammation. Understanding the immune system is key to the function of many medications and preventative treatment regimens such as vaccines. The importance of understanding how the immune system functions has been thrown into stark relief with the current COVID-19 situation, in which researchers across the globe are striving to understand how the SARS-CoV-2 virus affects the human body, how the immune system reacts to the virus and how this can be exploited to treat patients suffering with COVID-19.

RESTORE brings together researchers, clinicians and developers across multiple disciplines, including immunology, to bring novel Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs) to the European community and beyond. Many of the ATMPs under development utilise our understanding of the immune response to certain diseases and conditions to develop novel treatment options. The goal of RESTORE is to support the development of ATMPs that do not just alleviate symptoms but rather act to cure chronic diseases.

One such example of harnessing the immune system to reshape undesired immune responses or to restore immunocompetence is the use of regulatory T cells (Tregs). This unique T cell lineage is essential for maintaining immune tolerance to self as well as innocuous environmental antigens and intratissue immune homeostasis. A reduced number or function of these cells can result in unwanted inflammation/immunity associated with autoimmunity, autoinflammation, and disturbed regeneration from trauma and ischemia/reperfusion. As such, harnessing this aspect of the immune system could be used to treat a variety of autoimmune and auto-inflammatory conditions. E.g. the use of Tregs to “cure” rejection of the kidney after transplantation.

To learn more about the immune system this 29th April, explore the exciting resources contained within the links below!