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Neuroinflammatory disease

Goals

The laboratory for Neuroimmunology has a translational structure with a continuous exchange between the clinical care program Neuroinflammatory disorders and laboratory research on these disorders.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a common neuroinflammatory disorder. MS typically affects young adults and can lead to physical and cognitive disability. There are approximately 10,000 individuals suffering from the disease in Belgium, and 2.5 million worldwide. Characteristics of the disease are inflammation, demyelination and axonal loss in brain and spinal cord.

Genetic factors play a role in an individual’s susceptibility to develop the disease and form the starting point of our research. In collaboration with colleagues worldwide of the International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium we have identified more than 50 genetic risk factors for MS in the last few years. As these explain a substantial fraction of but not the entire heritability of the disease, this research line is continued. The known genetic factors point to the role of specific cells of the immune system in the development of the disease, but more research is needed to understand their role precisely so as to be able to identify targets for treatments. We also investigate whether genetic factors play a role in the disease course and the response to treatment.

The Laboratory of Neuroimmunology is supported by the Research Fund K.U.Leuven (OT/11/087), the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO)-Vlaanderen, Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek Multiple Sclerose (WOMS), the Belgian Neurological Society, the Charcot Foundation, the chairs “Bayer Chair on Fundamental Genetic Research into the Neuroimmunological Aspects of Multiple Sclerosis” and “Biogen Idec Chair Translational Research in Multiple Sclerosis” and research support from Teva Pharma Nederland B.V., and Rotary Zaventem.

Projects

Current projects

  • Genome-wide association study on MS
  • Replication and refinement of genomic regions associated with MS: Immunochip
  • Study of high-risk families with MS
  • The role of auto-inflammatory genes in susceptibility to MS and response to treatment
  • Humoral immunity in MS from a genetic perspective

Past projects

  • Bone marrow transplantation in Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis, (EAE), an animal model for MS.
    In collaboration with the Laboratory for Experimental Transplantation (Prof. Dr. M. Waer, K.U.Leuven), mice undergoing a bone marrow transplantation were used to investigate mechanisms of graft-versus-host autoimmunity and techniques that enlarge the efficiency of and reduce the risks of allogeneic bone marrow transplantation.
    The results have been described in several publicatons (see Publications).

Who

Prof. Dr. B. Dubois (head of the laboratory, principal investigator)
Prof. Dr. A. Goris (principal investigator)
I. Pauwels (PhD student)
L. Cosemans (laboratory technician)
K. Clysters (research nurse)
C. Thijs (administrative assistant)

Past members of the lab, visitors and master students:
Bart Van Wijmeersch
Rita Dobosi
Lars Stage

Publications

Publications Prof. Dr. B. Dubois, Prof. Dr. A. Goris

Research news

Prof. Dr. An Goris is laureate of the Charcot Research Fund 2011.

Multiple sclerosis research doubles the number of genes associated with the disease - Nature 2011, 476:214-219

Links

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