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Currently, there are more than 80 different autoimmune diseases that affect nearly 4% of the world's population. All of them have in common that the patient's immune system is attacking healthy cells. AAV is such autoimmune disease affecting one in 8000 people with a 5-year survival rate of 60-97% (depending on the type of AAV). The disease is characterized by inflammation and necrosis of blood vessels, and when untreated affects underlying organs. Currently, there are no treatments against AAV, but symptones can be treated with immunosuppressors to lengthen the lives of patients. The drawback of these suppressors is that they suppress the total immune response of patients which makes them very prone to other diseases.
With iGEM TU Eindhoven we design a cell-based treatment for autoimmune diseases, starting with the application on ANCA-associated vasculitis (AAV). Our cell-based therapy is based on the Generalized Extracellular Molecule Sensor (GEMS) system, positioned into the cellular wall of our therapy cells. This designed system allows the coupling of ANCA, the disease-associated molecules, floating around the cell. The coupling of such autoantibodies can enable a response within the cell which forms IL-10 (an anti-inflammatory molecule). As a result, local expression of IL-10 by the cells suppresses the autoimmune response of AAV. The ability to make the GEMS system specific for different disease-associated molecules, makes this treatment promising to be applicable for multiple autoimmune diseases.
Our vision Stimulating innovation in the field of healthcare, and pushing the boundaries of synthetic biology. Our mission Designing a cell-based therapeutic for autoimmune diseases, starting with ANCA-associated vasculitis (AAV).