Over three million Austrians suffer from immune diseases

Over three million Austrians suffer from immune diseases


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From 6th to 9th September, more than 4,000 immunologists meet at the Austria Center Vienna at the European Immunology Congress (ECI). The focus is on basic immunological research and immunotherapy. New successes in combating allergies, autoimmune and cancer are celebrated.

More than 40% of Austrians have immune diseases, ¾ of them allergies
More than 3 million or 40% of all Austrians are from
Immune diseases affected. Around three quarters of it (that's more than two million)
People) have become sensitized to allergens; at least a good part of it suffers
temporarily with manifest allergies. “There are also around 650,000 patients in Austria
suffering from autoimmune diseases, immuno deficits in 7,100 people
expect. In general, immune diseases are steadily increasing. The field of activity of
Immunologists are additionally diagnosed with cancers that are immunological
Intervention is needed, expanded: around 30,000 people are affected. Also the
8,000 Austrians who receive organ and bone marrow transplants
need support, ”estimates Univ.-Prof. Dr. Winfried F. Pickl from the Institute for
Immunology at the Medical University of Vienna and President of the Congress this year
ECI Congress. “Fortunately, there is also an increase in immunological needs
improved diagnostics compared to d. H. Immune diseases are better recognized.
Also supply the latest vaccinations with recombinant allergy vaccines as well
Findings from the hygiene hypothesis, good explanations and corresponding
Starting points for allergies, ”emphasizes Pickl.

Active immunotherapy remains the best immune protection
This begins with the mother, who is vaccinated by the
immunological nest protection a large part of their protective antibodies to that
transfers unborn child. The long half-lives of these antibodies (stability)
can make the child serious in the first six to nine months of life
Protect infectious diseases. During this period, the active ones already set
Vaccination programs that actively and directly protect our children. Also the
“Immunological herd protection”, which is caused by the vaccination of fathers, other
Family members and the majority of the population, reduces that
The risk of illness for the weakest among us is considerable. However, as is currently the case
Measles and diphtheria - a "vaccination fatigue", the v.a. for children
serious, often life-threatening diseases. That is and remains
so-called protective vaccinations the best immune defense. However, vaccination is not
important only for children, but also for adults. This is especially important in
Considering viral infectious diseases - such as influenza -
Sense that can be dangerous, especially for older children, especially in old age. There
the vaccination protection that is caused by a first active vaccination with the
Decreases vaccination age, so a good vaccination protection for the high can already in middle age
Age are built up. In this sense, the range of vaccinations is constantly expanding - from meningococci and pneumococci to new types of influenza to Ebola.

"I always like to compare active immunotherapy (vaccination) with that
Seat belt when driving a car, "says Pickl," Whoever vaccinates straps, so to speak, as if
every car ride with the seat belt on. Many people may never have
a car accident, but should it happen, the seat belt is essential for survival. ”
Landsteiner and Pirquet set scientific milestones
Austria and Vienna have a great tradition in immunological
Basic research but also in clinical immunology. This is how he described it
Austrian pediatrician Clemens von Pirquet was the first to have the allergy. Have pirquet
and his contemporaries took this term even further and of serum sickness,
which after repeated administration of protective animal
Hyperimmune sera can occur, derived, is now understood under the term
“Allergy”, the allergic diseases associated with the antibody class E (IgE)
together. IgE are a class of antibodies that are used in the body to mediate
allergic reaction. One finds allergen-specific IgE in the serum
a person, one speaks of sensitization. These special protein substances are in the blood
and to be found in other body fluids and should actually precede the body
Worm diseases, animal poisons and. protect. As part of allergic
However, sensitization and disease are IgE antibodies against harmless per se
(mostly) proteins from the environment (pollen, food, dust mites)
directed. When it comes into contact with the sensitizing allergens, it can quickly
allergic symptoms come up.

Another great immunologist in Austria is the Nobel Prize winner Karl Landsteiner.
He is considered to be the discoverer of the blood types and the rhesus factor and thus laid the
Foundation stone for the use of blood transfusions but also the treatment of
Rhesus factor intolerance in expectant mothers. Landsteiner's insights
Millions of people saved their lives and many children shared with partners
critical rhesus constellations have emerged, a healthy life
enables.

The pioneers of immune research in Vienna at the turn of the century (Emerging
Immunology - Vienna’s Contributions) will be part of a detailed exhibition
which are held in the foyer of the Austria Center Vienna during the entire
Congress to be visited.

Today takes place in Austria based on these traditional roots and through that
Initiative of the Austrian Society for Immunology (ÖGAI) an intensive
Exchange takes place with the international colleague, which is mainly through the
EFIS (European Federation of Immunological Societies), which also hosts the ECI Congress
organized and the IUIS (International Union of Immunological Societies) is promoted.
This international exchange is essential for international networking,
transnational research and the further development of immunological
Research focus in Austria. This is due to both the immunological
and allergological research focus of the medical universities and
Universities in Vienna, Graz, Innsbruck and Salzburg as well as the University of
Veterinary medicine promoted in Vienna, as well as by the wise and far-sighted
Support for national and international funding programs. (National: Fund for
Funding of Scientific Research (FWF), Research Promotion Agency (FFG), Christian Doppler Society, (CDG), Austrian Academy of Sciences
Sciences (ÖAW); International: European Union FP7 programs). Also is
Austria in the fortunate position of well-known international companies as well as start-up
Companies with immunology / allergy research and development programs, such as
such as Affiris, Baxalta, Boehringer Ingelheim, Biomay, Fresenius, and many others)
to accommodate.

ECI Congress focuses on basic research and new treatment methods
This year's ECI Congress (4th European Congress of Immunology) is concerned
with various aspects of basic immunological research, such as the
Development and functioning of the recently described lymphocytes
innate immune system (innate lymphocytes). As recently
turned out to be a reflection of the customizable lymphocytes and could help
better explain the development of allergies and autoimmune diseases. Second
A major focus of the congress is the latest developments in the fight against
immune-mediated diseases:

Success in allergy treatment through new vaccinations and IgE absorption
In the past, determining an allergen to which the body responds was
difficult and potentially subject to errors, since with allergen extracts such as
for example laboriously obtained birch pollen. This natural
However, extracts often contain numerous different allergens and, depending on the
Preparation, varying amounts of the individual disease-causing allergens.
However, in order to achieve good treatment success, it is important to find out
Which specific allergen (s) the body responds to in the therapy
to be able to concentrate this allergen (s). Today are diagnostic and
Therapy with recombinant allergens possible. Through the in the test tube
Allergens produced in pure form can now precisely target the specific ones
Sensitization to individual allergens can be diagnosed (allergen chip).
Once the allergen causing the disease is determined, gene fusion and
Coupling with helper antigens are made using novel, highly effective vaccines
only a handful of vaccinations (approx. 3-5) instead of those for hyposensitization
years of syringe therapy are necessary. Is the IgE level, so the number
The antibodies in the body that react to the allergen, very high, can help reduce IgE
and thus to combat allergy, new types of IgE reduction methods
be used. The IgE levels are checked by blood washing
so-called IgE absorber column reduced. The IgE levels can be like this in many cases
that the affected patients are now in for anti-IgE treatment
Question, which otherwise patients with very high IgE levels (atopic)
must be withheld. The IgE absorber columns were designed by researchers from the
Medical University of Vienna under the leadership of Prof. Rudolf Valenta in
Cooperation with Biomay and Fresenius developed and manufactured in Austria.

Use of blocking antibodies against messenger substances and TNF
Combat autoimmune diseases

For autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus erythematosus
(Butterfly lichen), psoriasis (psoriasis), but Chron's disease
the immune system is also directed against certain thyroid diseases
healthy body cells and must therefore be throttled to stop the course of the disease. Until about a decade ago it was mostly broad-based
Recently treated with substances like cortisone or antimetabolites, it is possible to
much more specific forms of treatment that fuel the disease
Inflammatory factors to block directly. The first major successes were at
rheumatoid arthritis, the most common inflammatory joint disease through which
Blockage of the inflammatory factor tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-) using
monoclonal antibodies or TNF receptor globulins can be achieved. At
The disease can even be completely “turned off” early on. The blockade of the
TNF factor is now also successful in the treatment of the disease
Chron, ulcerative colitis and other inflammatory diseases. Other
blocking antibodies, which are also used in autoimmune diseases such as
Psoriasis can be used for better treatment, which are against
Interleukin 12/23 and antibodies directed against Interleukin 17. Here, the
Interleukins (IL), which are the body 's own messenger substances of the cells of the
Immune system, inhibited by certain blocking antibodies. So that can
“Miscommunication”, which triggers the body's autoimmune reaction, is prevented
become. The production of all of these therapeutic antibodies today with great
Success can be applied to the patient is an immediate success of the
basic immunological research - above all through the description of a
Method for the production of monoclonal antibodies in the mouse by Koehler and
Milstein in the 1970s (Nobel Prize 1975) and the further development of
partially humanized or fully humanized antibodies using modern
molecular biological methods.

Modern cancer therapies through immunological approaches
Not all cancers are automatically linked to the
Immunology, however, many can be prevented by immunological cancer therapies (currently
be treated more specifically by passive immunotherapy). With leukemia, and
Breast cancer treatment (and now many other cancers) are also used
very successfully used monoclonal antibodies for treatment that help
ward off the patient's cancer cells better. Often these are novel
Cancer therapies used in combination with classic chemotherapy drugs that
Combination therapy significantly improves the success of treatment. For example,
anti-B cell therapy has been successfully used in the treatment of
B-cell leukemia / lymphoma applied. At the moment there is also a lot of work on the
Activation of the immune system against cancer cells by so-called check-point inhibitors
researched. Clinical trials are showing breakthrough success. This new one
Form of therapy is based on the fact that tumor cells sometimes affect the existing immune system
brake at certain check points. If the body becomes monoclonal antibodies,
that are directed against these check points, can slow down the
Tumor on the immune system can be prevented. As a result, the immune system can
to act better against the tumor cells and to ward them off. Currently this is
Method already successfully applied to melanoma (skin cancer) treatment
other types of cancer are in clinical trials.

In addition, cellular cancer therapies are on the rise. Today it is possible
To equip lymphocytes with such receptors that are specific to certain
Tumors respond. The lymphocytes are obtained from the patient in the
Test tube with cancer-specific receptors (CAR, chimerized antigen receptors)
equipped and subsequently infused back into the patient. The receptor-modified lymphocytes have now acquired the ability to recognize the cancer cells
and kill accordingly. This form of therapy is especially for those diseases
become interesting where chemotherapy and / or antibody therapy alone too
not lead to resounding success.

These and other therapeutic approaches, but also new insights from the
Basic research leading to the development of further approaches and working hypotheses
are recognized by the world's most recognized experts within the framework of the ECI
Congress presented and discussed in detail.

"With current immunology research, we are therefore once again relying on
Developing better and newer vaccines (active and passive), combating
of auto-immune disease and improved tumor defense through immunological
Cancer therapy. Basic research is essential here, because only through it
these milestones are only possible, ”emphasizes Pickl.

The EFIS (European Federation of Immunological Societies) is the European one
Umbrella organization for 14,000 immunologists from 31 countries. The EFIS supports with
immunological research and further education for its 31 member organizations
as well as international networking of the participants. At the ECI Congress organized by the
EFIS is organized and takes place in the Austria Center Vienna from September 6-9,
4,000 immunologists are expected. (pm)

Author and source information


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