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Innovative chemokine-based therapeutic strategies for autoimmunity and chronic inflammation

Final Report Summary - INNOCHEM (Innovative chemokine-based therapeutic strategies for autoimmunity and chronic inflammation)

The general objective of INNOCHEM was to develop innovative chemokine-based therapeutic strategies for autoimmunity and chronic inflammation. The programme was based on the scientific excellence of the applicants, which have made major recognised contributions to the field since the very beginning of chemokine discovery, and on the construction of shared technological platforms. This included:
i) proteomics;
ii) transcriptional profiling for the outline of the 'chemokinome' in pathophysiological conditions and identification of new antagonists;
iii) molecular modelling of agonist / antagonist receptor or agonist/inhibitor interaction, for pharmacology and drug design;
iv) gene modified mice for target validation in autoimmune disorders.
Genetic, structural, biological, and immunopathological studies provide a framework for the development of innovative chemokine-based therapeutic strategies.

The therapeutic approaches investigated were innovative and not limited to conventional antagonists. These included decoy receptors, agonist binders, and non-competitive allosteric inhibitors. In addition to academic groups, therapy-oriented research included three biotech Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), one medium and one big pharmaceuticals companies. The companies involved developed complementary non-overlapping approaches to target the chemokine system with recombinant and low molecular weight molecules. This programme has re-established the European leadership in basic and applied chemokine research by integrating academic and industrial cutting edge groups to develop innovative therapeutic strategies against autoimmunity and chronic inflammatory disorders.

Autoimmune / chronic inflammation disorders usually entail therapy with immunosuppressive medications that slow or suppress the immune system response in an attempt to stop the inflammation involved in the disease. Unfortunately, these medications also suppress the ability of the immune system to fight infection and have other potentially serious side effects. Therefore, a great effort of medical science is directed to find new therapies for the treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases and that also improve the safety of human population. The goal of INNOCHEM project was the evaluation of the chemokine system as a new therapeutic target and the development of innovative approaches for its control.

During its activity, INNOCHEM has generated a significant amount of preclinical data clearly showing that chemokines and their receptors are key players in a number of autoimmune / chronic inflammation disorders and indicating which specific molecules play central roles in driving different diseases. INNOCHEM also has identified innovative approaches to control this complex molecular system, each representing a new avenue of potential industrial interest. In addition, because of the tight interaction among the partners participating to the INNOCHEM project and of the novelty of some technological approaches, the proposed studies has also created new opportunities for education and training of young investigators. The proposed study has offered the opportunity to import technical skill and scientific knowledge in the fields of chemokine research in the different partner countries. This has been an input for the formation of young researchers and for the development of analogous projects with application to different targets. It is assumed that all this can result in new opportunities of employment in Europe.