MIAMI – International Symposium – European Project successfully completed

13. – 15. April 2016, Münster, Germany

The MIAMI (Monitoring Innate Immunity in Arthritis and Mucosal Inflammation) International Symposium took place from 13th to 15th April 2016 in Münster, Germany, with more than 80 participants attending. The symposium was also the final communication event for the MIAMI consortium. Its members presented the work done during the 39 months of project duration, focussing on translational approaches in seronegative arthritis and juvenile rheumatic diseases and looking at new aspects of innate immune dysregulation while employing new means for monitoring inflammation. The program was organized into six scientific and one technical innovation session, which was included to showcase the translation of the MIAMI consortium scientific findings into the clinical market.

In the first session “Seronegative Arthritis: More than just Joint Inflammation” MIAMI principal investigators Prof. Dirk Elewaut (Ghent University (UG)) and Prof. Oliver Fitzgerald (University College Dublin (UCD)) reported on the clinical and diagnostic challenges in spondyloarthritis and psoriatic arthritis (PsA). MIAMI researchers Bas Vastert and Sytze de Roock (both University Medical Centre Utrecht) rounded up the session with the discovery and clinical implementation of biomarkers for monitoring disease progression of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).

The second session focussed on “New Aspects of Innate Immune Dysregulation” three invited speakers, Prof. Helena Erlandsson Harris (Karolinska Institute Stockholm), Prof. Thomas Pap (University Hospital Münster) and Dr. Scott Canna (National Institutes of Health- NIH) gave excellent overviews of their groups’ research on HMGB1 and sterile inflammation, inflammatory loops in mice, and inflammasomes and IL-18, respectively. The session was closed by MIAMI researcher Heleen Cypers (UG), who presented findings on S100-DAMPs as early disease markers in preclinical stages of disease.

During the third session on “New Means for Monitoring Inflammation” was colourful and full of pictures, with Dr. Sven Hermann (University of Münster) showcasing molecular imaging in clinical practice and Prof. Matthias Gunzer (University of Duisburg-Essen) showing how to image innate immunity in vivo, while MIAMI researcher Edwin Geven (University Medical Center Nijmegen) presented novel approaches in the molecular imaging of a S100-DAMPs in experimental arthritis. In contrast, Prof. Min Ae Lee-Kirsch (Technical University Dresden) focused on molecular signatures, pathways and markers in interferonopathies.

“Disease Biomarkers: Omics and Beyond” was the overall topic of the fourth session, where MIAMI’s principal investigator Prof. Stephen Pennington (UCD) gave a critical view of proteomic discovery and validation, and MIAMI researcher Angela McArdle (UCD) presented the workflow and results of unbiased identification of novel biomarkers in sample cohorts provided by MIAMI partners. Invited speakers Dr. Florence Apparailly (INSERM U844, Montpelier) and Prof. Vinod Chandran (University of Toronto) reported on micro RNAs in rheumatoid arthritis, and on proteomic-based approaches in PsA, respectively.

Session 5 on the “Innate Immunity in Mucosal Inflammation” has seen Prof. Christoph Becker (University Hospital Erlangen) presenting on innate immune pathways in the gut and Prof. Mathias Hornef (University Hospital Aachen) on the ontogeny of intestinal epithelial innate immune signalling, while Dr. Robert Colbert (NIH) gave a critical review of the research done on the role of the microbiome in paediatric rheumatic diseases. MIAMI researcher Ariane De Ganck (Biogazelle) closed the session with presenting the workflow and findings of micro-RNA profile analyses in MIAMI sample cohorts.

In the sixth and last scientific session “Juvenile Rheumatic Diseases: New Therapeutic Targets”, Dr. Dirk Holzinger (University Hospital Muenster) discussed, if and how we can predict response and outcome of these diseases. Prof. Patrick Matthys (University of Leuven) focused on targeting interferone-related pathways for therapy, while Prof. Alexei Grom (Cincinnati Childrens Hospital Medical Center) presented lessons learned from studying systemic JIA and macrophage-activation syndrome. Prof. Dirk Foell, coordinator of the MIAMI Consortium, closed the session with his report on monitoring disease activity for use in individualized medicine.

The last overall session was on “Technical Innovation: Translation of Results into the Market”, where representatives of the two small and medium enterprises involved in the MIAMI consortium, Bühlmann and Biogazelle, presented their products and services. Bühlmann scientist Nadia Ryter presented the development and validation of biomarker assays for therapy monitoring of rheumatic diseases, while Bühlmann CSO Jakob Weber showcased IBDoc®, the first CE/IVD marked home testing tool for therapy monitoring of chronic inflammatory diseases. In the final talk, Biogazelle CSO Prof. Jo Vandesompele presented the diagnostic potential of coding and non-coding RNAs.

The MIAMI International Symposium was deemed a great success by all of the participants and although it meant the end of the MIAMI consortium, it paved the way for future scientific collaborations.

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