IL-17 dependent autoimmune diseases
Autoimmune diseases 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. Such auto reactive T cells are usually kept in check by the regulatory T cells (Tregs), which seem defective in many autoimmune diseases. Lupus erythematosus, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis are classical examples of autoimmune diseases.
We have designed our research program with a particular focus on psoriasis.
Psoriasis is a chronic and debilitating autoimmune disease that affects approximately 125 million people globally, or 2 to 3% of the total population, and approximately 80% of psoriasis patients suffer from a mild-to-moderate form of the disease2. Beyond the physical manifestations, psoriasis can have a significant impact on a patient’s quality of life, often with profound psychosocial consequences.
There are three major forms of therapy to address psoriasis: topical, phototherapy and systemic therapy. The treatment options are not only based on psoriasis severity but also take into account the disease presentation, pregnancy, and comorbid conditions. Recent advances in biologic agents have considerably expanded the treatment options; however, the prices of these newer treatments are higher than traditional systemic medications. Topical therapy remains the standard of care for treatment of mild-to-moderate disease and the biological agents are typically reserved for the small population of psoriasis patients (5-10%) with the most severe disease. The available topical therapies include the use of corticosteroids and vitamin D analogues, either in monotherapy or in combination.
Despite the improved efficacy of the actual topical therapies, there is a continued need for more convenient and safer therapies that ideally target novel mechanisms of action.
1Pandya et al., 2018
2WHO Global report on Psoriasis, Geneva 2016 ; Kivelevitch et al., 2013