Systemic Autoimmune Diseases

We are focussing our research on two connective tissue diseases, systemic sclerosis and inflammatory myopathy.

Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is an autoimmune disease characterized by widespread vasculopathy, inflammation and fibrosis of skin and internal organs. This leads to thickening of the skin as well as irreversible functional impairment of organ function. However the etiology of SSc is unclear and the molecular mechanisms underlying the disease are poorly understood. In several independent but cooperative projects, we aim to determine molecular mechanisms that drive the onset and progression of fibrosis in SSc skin or internal organs. 

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The term inflammatory myopathy (myositis) comprises a group of heterogeneous autoimmune diseases which are characterized by the presence of an inflammatory infiltrate within the muscle tissue. The skin, the musculoskeletal system, but also internal organs such as lung, heart, or gastrointestinal tract might also be affected. Thus, those orphan diseases have a high morbidity and a significantly increased mortality. Current research efforts in basic science are aimed at the identification of molecular key players of disease pathogenesis as potential therapeutic targets.  

Current projects