Sanquin contributes to European research against MS

Sanquin researchers Dr Anja ten Brinke and Professor Marieke van Ham take part in a European consortium that aims to find a cure for multiple sclerosis

Researchers and clinicians from Belgium, Spain, The Netherlands and Germany are coming together in an attempt to find a cure for multiple sclerosis (MS).

MS is a condition that affects the brain and spinal cord. Approximately one in thousand people in Europe, of which most between the ages of 20 and 40s, get diagnosed. Although there are lots of options for treating and managing MS available today, none can cure MS, leaving a significant unmet need for the treatment of MS.

The researchers that convene in Antwerp will test a new therapeutic approach based on the patient’s own cells. This so called cell therapy, a type of personalised medicine, is currently being moved forward towards a first phase 1 study in patients with MS.

In MS, the immune system has derailed, setting a cascade of processes in motion that ultimately results in damage to the body’s own cells and molecules. The researchers have developed so-called tolerance-inducing or tolerogenic dendritic cells (tolDC). These cells are a specialised type of immune cell that function as the master switch of the immune system.

Under the influence of vitamin D treatment of these cells in the laboratory, the cells are able to re-educate the immune system, interfering directly with the underlying disease processes of the disorder following administration into the patient.

To investigate the safety and feasibility of the vaccine will be a crucial step in the development of novel treatment strategies against MS. In order to perform this clinical trial, the researchers obtained 5,357,032 EUR from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, enabling the collaboration between different EU research institutes and companies.

Acknowledgement

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, under grant agreement No 779316.

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