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New research network for Multiple Sclerosis research spearheaded by Mainz University Medical Center

European Commission to contribute approximately EUR 3.5 million for network development

To date, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) has been considered to be an incurable disease involving the immune system and its exact causes are still unknown. Why exactly is there inadequate communication between the various kinds of immune cells in patients with the autoimmune disease MS? Why are the brains of MS patients the targets of "accidental" attacks by their own immune system?

It is hoped that the research network ITN-NeuroKine, currently in the process of being formed under the aegis of the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) with the help of EUR 3.5 million in funding provided by the European Commission, will provide answers to these questions. ITN stands for Initial Training Network, a concept established as one of the Marie Curie Actions and designed to promote European networks for the structured training of young researchers. 'NeuroKine' is an acronym for 'Neurological disorders orchestrated by cytoKines'. The ITN NeuroKine network was launched on January 1, 2013.

"The core objective of our new ITN-NeuroKine research network is to gain insight into the impairment of communication between immune cells," explained Professor Dr. Ari Waisman, Director of the Institute of Molecular Medicine (IMM) at the Mainz University Medical Center. "We will specifically be focusing on the soluble proteins called cytokines, which regulate the communication between these cells." Immune cells are mobile and are present at various sites in the body.

The ITN-NeuroKine research network is composed of an international team of researchers with a broad range of expertise in the areas of molecular and cellular neuroimmunology and neuropathology. The participants are scientists from the University of Zürich (UZH), the Medical University of Vienna (MUW), the Parisian Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM), the Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele (USR) in Milan, the Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS) based in Rehovot, Israel, the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam (EMC), and the Charité University Hospital in Berlin together with various commercial medical organizations, such as Miltenyi Biotech GmbH, Apitope Technology Ltd., Phenex Pharmaceuticals AG, and the Mainz-based BioNTech AG. Also participating are the Postdoc Career Development Initiative (PCDI) in Utrecht, the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research in Basel, and GlaxoSmithKline.

"The creation of the ITN-NeuroKine research network is crucial to the reputation of Mainz as a science hub. On the one hand, the ITN-NeuroKine network will be conducting cutting-edge research into the area where brain and immune system interact. At the same time, this network will be providing young researchers with the opportunity to receive specialized training," emphasized Professor Dr. Dr. Reinhard Urban, Chief Scientific Officer of the Mainz University Medical Center.

Petra Giegerich | idw
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