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Inflammation is at the origin and progression of diseases such as diabetes or cancer

IRB Barcelona and Fundación BBVA have invited fifteen international researchers to discuss new scientific evidence associating chronic inflammation with a long list of diseases. Cancer and diabetes are the latest additions to this list.

What is the role of inflammation in cancer? Which molecular and cell mechanisms promote inflammation? How do antiinflammatory agents work and which molecules do we need to target for antiinflammatories to be more effective? These are essential questions for scientists studying the mechanisms that activate and control innate immune response. Fifteen top international specialists in this field will gather from 25-27 June for a conference entitled, “Inflammation and Chronic Disease”, part of the “Barcelona BioMed” conference series organised by the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and the Fundación BBVA. The event will be hosted by the Institut d’Estudis Catalans (IEC).

Inflammation and Chronic Disease

Inflammation is the innate response of the immune system that occurs when an organism sustains a lesion or infection. When the damaged tissue heals, the inflammation disappears, but when the inflammation remains active and becomes chronic, it can severely damage the affected tissue.

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Asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and, most recently, type 2 diabetes and cancer, are diseases that have been associated with chronic inflammation. Carme Caelles, researcher at IRB Barcelona and co-organiser of the conference, explains that “until recently inflammation has been considered simply a side effect of cancer. In the last three years, however, growing evidence has pointed to the active role of inflammation not just at the beginning but also in the promotion and progression of the disease”.

Inflammation is also linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes. The presence of excessive fat activates the production of cytokines, proteins involved in inflammatory processes that end up promoting insulin resistance. There are currently several drugs in clinical testing that inhibit cytokines as a treatment for diabetes. “Not all anti-inflammatory drugs work for all diseases. The challenge is to identify and understand complete mechanisms so that the most effective drugs can be designed for each disease, with the fewest side effects possible”, points out Caelles.

The conference will host a full range of specialists and will cover a variety of areas. Speakers will present their research into the basic mechanisms that activate inflammation, as well as the results from other studies directly associated with the disease. Michael Karin, co-organiser of the event and researcher at the University of California San Diego (USA), for example, published with his team a conclusive study linking inflammation, infection and cancer in Nature earlier this year. Another internationally renowned scientist is Gabriel Nuñez, from the University of Michigan Medical School (USA), whose laboratory has been studying the “autoinflammatory syndrome”. Jorge Moscat, from Genome Research Institute (USA), is a leading expert in signal transduction processes during the inflammatory response. Antonio Celada, an immunologist at IRB Barcelona, will present the latest results of his team on macrophages, cells that play a key role in the body’s immune response.

Sònia Armengou | alfa
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