Pan-European network for the study of inflammatory joint diseases is coordinated by Münster

The official kick-off meeting for the MIAMI project funded by the European Union has been organized now in Münster.

Münster (mfm/mk) - MIAMI is located in Westphalia - at least on the map: the troops of Münster University physician Prof. Dirk Föll is leading a homonymous research group, which has the goal to be able to better diagnose and treat inflammatory joint diseases. More than 15 scientists at 5 European Universities also cooperate with two biotech companies. The official kick-off meeting for the MIAMI project funded by the European Union has been organized now in Münster.

So far the diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases of the joints is difficult - for the effective recovery of patients, early detection of the disease is very important. "The exact nature of the underlying inflammatory processes must be identified", describes Prof. Dirk Föll, "then a targeted anti-inflammatory therapy may be initiated."

Is a disease long unrecognized and mishandled, this can lead to serious complications in other organs such as the bowel or the skin. "Early detection of signs of illness, especially in populations at risk is therefore one of the main goals of our new Research Verbund 'MIAMI'", Föll, he leads the newly created clinic for Clinic of paediatric rheumatology and Immunology at the University Hospital of Münster.

MIAMI stands for "Monitoring innate Immunity in Arthritis and Mucosal Inflammation" and consists of researchers from the universities of Münster, Ghent (Belgium), Utrecht and Nijmegen (Netherlands) and Dublin. In addition, two biotechnology companies from Ghent and Basel (Switzerland) participate to the project, which has started its work in March 2013. The research group receive grants of a total of about 5.7 million euros by the European Union, from where 1,25 million Euro go to Münster, where Föll coordinates the expert network.

The researchers are engaged in the investigation of the disease known as seronegative arthritis. "This joint disease known more often than rheumatoid arthritis" Föll explains the project, "and still is less explored." Föll and his colleagues want to change this now. First of all examine the mechanisms of pathogenesis and history with a focus on defects in the innate immune system. Thus, diseases of the joints as well as those of the intestines and the skin are taken into account.

"Why is this form of arthritis also affect other organ systems and what makes this disease so special?", Föll describes the key issues of the project. The scientists then link this basic research with the research on biomarkers for activation of the immune system. "We want to identify new markers to better monitor the activity of the disease", Coordinator Föll reports: "So, we create new conditions for faster and more effective therapies that can help patients with very specific forms of the disease."