Cytokine targeting and immunomodulation in arthritis
Our research team focuses on cytokine targeting and immunomodulation to (selectively) dampen the immune response to suppress synovial inflammation during arthritis and to prevent further destruction of cartilage and bone. We approach this by blocking the proinflammatory cytokines IL-17 and IL-22, and by inhibiting the pathogenic T lymphocytes (Th17 cells) via IL-21 and IL-6. Closely related with this Th17 research is our research on the effects of modulation of intestinal flora on the development of arthritis, and the activation of several Toll-Like Receptors (TLRs) involved in this.
Within the European IMI project “BeTheCure” we contribute to the standardization of murine models of experimental arthritis, and we participate in the research on new therapeutic targets in the IL-17 and TLR pathways. Because of our long-standing expertise in animal models, we also collaborate with external parties in the screening of new therapeutic agents in our RA and OA models. To translate potential new targets from bench to bedside, we make use of the humanized RA synovium SCID mouse model, which we extensively validated with frequently applied biological treatments. Combing our in vitro assays, classical in vivo systems and this translational model of RA, we contribute to the preclinical research and development of new, personalized treatment in RA.