A project that studies chronic systemic inflammation receives EU funding

Erwin Wagner, Director of the Cancer Cell Biology Programme at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), has been awarded an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) to study Chronic Systemic Inflammation, a major health problem that causes morbidity and mortality associated with pathologies of the immune system and cancer.

"The aim of this research proposal is to substantially advance our understanding of whole-organism physiology in relation to systemic inflammation as a cause or/and consequence of disease, with a focus on Psoriasis/Joint Diseases and Cancer Cachexia," as asserted in the proposal submitted to the European agency, which will be funded with a total of 2.5 million euros.

Wagner and his team - the Genes, Development, and Disease Group− want to shed light on the interactions between different organs that take place during the progression of the disease. This will provide novel information in the context of the whole organism; the classical method of addressing the study of Chronic Systemic Inflammation (CSI) focussed on cell types and specific organs.

"The key hypothesis of this proposal is that CSI originating in diseased tissue can affect the entire body and contribute to the morbidity and mortality associated with the systemic progression of the disease," explains the researcher. To verify this, Wagner and his colleagues will concentrate on particular inflammatory diseases and cancer cachexia.

The project is not limited, however, to seeking a general overview of Chronic Systemic Inflammation but will look into "the molecular mechanisms at the cellular and systemic level, as well as deciphering endocrine interactions and cross-talks between distant organs."

The main goals are to: decipher CSI initiation and propagation mechanisms in the skin, with particular emphasis on the cutaneous microbiome; gain insights into articular diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, etc.) as well as systemic manifestations of CSI; and explore the systemic interactions between CSI, the innate immune system, metabolism, and the neuroendocrine communication in cancer cachexia.

About the ERC
The European Research Council, established in 2007 by the European Union, is the leading European organisation that promotes research projects based on Excellence. The bottom-up approach of the ERC, based on researchers’ initiatives, enables it to identify new opportunities and directions in each field of research, without thematic priorities. Each year, the ERC selects and funds the best and most creative researchers of any nationality and age to develop their projects in Europe over a period of five years. Within the new Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020), the Horizon 2020 programme, the ERC’s budget has been increased to more than 13,000 million euros.