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Molecular mechanisms in inflammatory myopathies
Inflammatory myopathies comprise a heterogeneous group of diseases, which affect skeletal muscle, and various other organs, giving rise to numerous medical problems that require a multidisciplinary therapeutic approach. However, our knowledge about underlying pathomechanisms that drive the disease and its chronic development in different entities is scarce.
We are focusing on the interactions between the immune system (innate and adaptive) and skeletal myofibers, vessels within the muscle, fibrous tissue, pericytes etc. This research has led to interesting insights in the specific roles and function of macrophage subsets in different disease entities. Further, we are addressing the association with malignancies in certain subgroups of myositis.
Classification of inflammatory myopathies
Since the seminal papers by Bohan and Peter in the 1970s, a number of different classification systems have been proposed. This has been done to more precisely define subgroups of patients/diseases, aiming to define disease concepts and ultimately, also to include patients into therapeutic trials.
We are particularly interested in developing a 'novel' classification system taking into account new morphological and immunological insights, clinical- and serological (autoantibodies) data. In a collaborative research project (Prof Benveniste and Dr Allenbach, Paris, France) we have identified and defined a new entity (anti-synthetase syndrome-associated myositis), and characterized molecular pathways in autoimmune necrotizing myopathies.
CNS Inflammatory diseases
We are studying CNS inflammatory processes using different model systems. This research comprises cerebral malaria, cerebral cryptococcosis, and bacterial brain abscess. Our focus is the host pathogen interaction at the interface between peripheral blood and central nervous tissue. In addition, we have a long-standing interest in analyzing macrophage function in this context, specifically their role in central invasion and persistence of pathogens.