In this project two KU Leuven research groups joined their expertise to understand the role of immunoregulatory B-cell subsets in multiple sclerosis and to use this knowledge in the clinic.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a common neurological disorder in young adults and leads to significant physical and cognitive disability at a crucial stage in life. Different cells of the immune system play a crucial role, and it is now clear that B-cells, which have long stood in the shadow of T-cells, are important in MS susceptibility and treatment. In particular, the balance between pathogenic and protective B-cells provides a disease mechanism that is amenable by treatment. Here, a collaboration of two KU Leuven research groups, under guidance of Prof. Goris and Prof. Matthys, focusses on a better understanding of the phenotype of protective B-cells in MS and how these can be induced in a therapeutic context.
Professor An Goris on the role of the Belgian Charcot Foundation (Bodytalk):
Over the past years, various new MS drugs have come on to the market, which all depress or modulate the immune system with varying degrees of success. To increase their effectiveness, we need to improve our knowledge of the actual mechanism of the disease. We also need to search for biomarkers and genetic variants in MS patients that enable the course of the disease to be predicted or can support the choice of a particular treatment. This would make it possible to customise therapy, which as yet is not feasible.
An Goris emphasises that the support of the Belgian Charcot Foundation also acts as a powerful lever which enables further funding to be sought from other institutions and foundations for research purposes, on the basis of the results achieved, among others in the form of doctoral research.
This, for instance, is how we have been able to join the European project MultipleMS, which focuses on investigating the erratic progression of MS.
Source: BODYTALK Feb.2019, nr. 127, p. 17