The group has made considerable contributions to the discovery of the genetic architecture of several inflammatory barrier diseases. It has become clear that disease genes overlap between different disease entities. Disease phenotypes may show substantial overlap between the different barrier organ affections as well. Subclinical manifestations that do not affect the primary site of disease are often poorly documented in a given disease. The resulting co-morbitiy (e.g. cardiovascular events in rheumatic disease) however may be a significant contributing factor to disease burden and mortality. The overlap between inflammatory barrier diseases in etiologies and clinical presentations may thus be relevant to long-term outcome studies.
A joint inflammation conference is the hub for the development of cross indication diagnostic and therapeutic protocols. When novel therapies are studied in the different indication fields, the core phenotype is assessed in addition to disease-specific molecular outcome measures. Novel biomarkers and outcome measures are generated for therapies across different inflammatory barrier disease indications.
Biologic interventions have the capability to change the course of disease. Innovative molecular markers will become more important than the short-sighted regulatory symptom-based definitions of clinical remission, in particular when early targeted interventions are developed (as, for example, the blockade of IL-6-transignaling through sgp130fc) Therefore, one of the major aims of the group is to define new, more meaningful endpoints/outcome measures, including new imaging techniques and metabolic/cardiovascular parameters (e.g. loss of insulin sensitivity or development of atherosclerosis in chronic inflammatory diseases). Ultimately, we want to understand the mechanisms of therapy response to identify overarching principles of disease modification. A research task will hence be the comparison of efficacies and mechanisms for anti-inflammatory (biological) interventions across the disease indications. This is followed in large systematic cohorts with concomitant immunophenotyping, microbiome analysis and imaging (i.e. sonography, endoscopic techniques) strategies, but also in cell biological and animal models We believe that multimodal biomarker analysis and individual substratification will become an important extension of clinical decision-making in future precision medicine.