Inflammation and autoimmune diseases
Drug research and development effort at Genfit is focused on innovative treatment solutions in chronic inflammatory diseases and autoimmune conditions associated with either liver function, such as the Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) or with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, such as Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative colitis.
Our therapeutic interest is also focused on developing novel therapies to treat autoimmune diseases that severely affect liver function, such as Primary Biliary Cirrhosis or Auto-immune Hepatitis, which predispose to serious liver damage (cirrhosis) and may require liver transplantation.
Most people think of inflammation as a physiological response to limit pathogen invasion and tissue damage after injury. As opposed to such acute inflammatory response, which is a controlled process with an initiation, resolution and termination phase, a chronic inflammatory disease is a medical condition that is characterized by long and persistent systemic inflammation with no real termination phase.
Chronic inflammatory diseases
In developed countries, people suffer from chronic inflammation as a result of excessive calorie consumption or in response to certain foods, especially highly processed industrial or convenience foods, and in response to environmental factors such as cigarette smoke or air pollution.
Unchecked and persistent low grade inflammation may destroy, insulin producing beta-cells in pancreas and has a damaging effect on blood vessels, heart, kidney and liver.
Chronic inflammation may contribute to morbidity associated with major metabolic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases or type 2 diabetes and also predispose to chronic liver and bowel diseases.
Existing therapeutic options in numerous chronic inflammatory diseases are still not satisfactory and the financial burden for healthcare systems worldwide is exploding as the number of patients augments.
Autoimmune diseases affect various organs and are one of the leading causes of death and disability, especially in women.
Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis to give some classical examples, arise when the immune system is not able to clearly distinguish between its own and foreign antigens. In such context, T lymphocytes (T cells) that attack foreign (and self) antigens, orchestrate destructive immune responses and activate B lymphocytes (B cells) to produce antibodies against its own organs. Autoreactive T cells are usually kept in check by the regulatory T cells (Tregs) but these cells seem defective in many autoimmune diseases.
There are currently no cures for autoimmune diseases, so treatments focus on relieving the symptoms and on better control of the autoimmune process.
Classical therapeutic approaches mainly rely on different classes of broad range anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive drugs. Modern therapies tend to inactivate and destroy effector T cells in more selective ways or to restore the control by Tregs.