Top Sector Life Sciences & Health (LSH) entails a broad scope of disciplines, from pharmaceuticals to medical technology and from healthcare infrastructure to vaccination. To realise its mission – vital citizens in a healthy economy - the Top Sector builds on the strengths of the Dutch LSH sector to address the biggest societal challenges in prevention, cure and care. By funding multidisciplinary public-private partnerships (PPPs) the Top Sector aims to facilitate innovation. Here we give an overview of  a number of funded R&D projects by Top Sector LSH. The page is updated continuously.

Preventing tissue damage by inhibiting neutrophils in autoimmunity

Neutrophils as clinical targets to prevent tissue damage in chronic inflammation and autoimmunity

Neutrophils are abundant cells of the immune system. Their main function is to destroy invading pathogens. However, excess activation can cause tissue damage and chronic inflammation. The main research question is therefore: ‘Are neutrophils a suitable target to reduce tissue damage in chronic inflammation and autoimmunity’? The van Egmond lab of the VUmc has great expertise with studying neutrophil activation. Bioceros has expressed its interest in this research question, because it can open up ample opportunities for future development of therapeutics. Both parties now join forces to investigate whether targeting neutrophils will resolve existing inflammation and decrease disease.

Neutrophils are found in many chronic inflammatory or autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and asthma, but their potential detrimental role is mostly overlooked. Many of these diseases are prevalent in Western society, and incidence is increasing due to our modern life style. These diseases generally manifest at early age, and have a great negative impact on patients, their social network, employers and the society. Cure is not yet possible and the disease last a life time.

The consortium partners hypothesise that neutrophils induce severe tissue damage in the abovementioned diseases, hereby seriously aggravating illness. They will start with investigating neutrophil contribution in our preclinical skin blistering and arthritis models, and test new drugs to inhibit neutrophils as proof of principle. Finding new ways to prevent tissue damage may improve health and well-being of many patients suffering from the abovementioned autoimmune diseases.

At the end of the project the consortium partners will have determined the role of neutrophils in blistering diseases and arthritis and have identified whether inhibiting neutrophil activation reduces tissue damage. If successful, they will investigate the harmful role of neutrophils in other diseases in future studies. Moreover, if blocking neutrophils diminishes disease, they will develop novel therapies for clinical application.