Immune-mediated diseases are extremely diverse – patients with the same diagnosis may see the disease progress in very different ways, and respond differently to treatments. This is because the course of the disease is influenced by multiple factors, including the patient’s genes, immune system, environment, and the microbes living in their gut. Furthermore, all of these factors interact with and impact on one another. As a result, it is very hard to predict how the disease will develop in a specific patient, and which treatments will be effective.
The goal of ImmUniverse is to add to our understanding of two immune-mediated diseases: ulcerative colitis (in which the immune system attacks the colon), and atopic dermatitis (which affects the skin). It will use liquid biopsies to detect the immune cells circulating in the blood, and analyse how these interact with the tissues affected at the microenvironment scale. The project will follow a number of patients over time to see how the disease evolves.
Ultimately, the project’s findings should contribute to a better, more precise diagnosis for patients; and better information on how severe the disease is likely to be for each individual patient and how it will progress over time. Finally, the project will make it easier for doctors and patients to monitor how well a treatment is working.