How and when do infectious diseases trigger the onset of non communicable diseases

Prof. Dr. Andre Franke – project partner within the recently granted EU project ID-DarkMatter-NCD

The overall research topic of the EU project ID-DarkMatter-NCD funded via the EU programme for Research and Innovation “Horizon Health” (HORIZON-HLTH-2023-DISEASE-03) is to understand how infectious diseases (IDs) together with environmental and genetic factors trigger the onset of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

The entire project will be funded with 8.4 million Euros over five years. Prof. Dr. Thomas Vogl, Centre of Cancer Research of the Medical University of Vienna, Austria, is the coordinator of the project. Prof. Franke, Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology (IKMB), Kiel University and University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein and speaker of the DFG Research Unit miTarget and the EU-project miGut-Health, Kiel, Germany, will contribute with his expertise in inflammatory bowel disease as well as immunogenetics (e.g. detailed analyses and fingerprinting of the adaptive human immune system). He and his team have access to an excellent infrastructure and provide data from longitudinal clinical cohorts. In the fields of data analysis and interpretation they will work together with colleagues from Sorbonne University/Assitance Publique Hopitaux, Paris, France and from the University of Groningen, The Netherlands and as such support the work of the entire ID-DarkMatter-NCD consortium. The project work in Kiel will be overall funded with 493,250 €.

Immune-related noncommunicable diseases include chronic inflammatory diseases such as inflammatory bowel diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. In recent years, it has become more apparent that infectious diseases could trigger NCDs. Just recently, evidence has accumulated that an Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) infection is an essential prerequisite and driver for the development of multiple sclerosis. However for most NCDs, the exact antigens remain unknown. Furthermore, in the great majority of cases, exposure to an ID alone does not trigger the development of an NCD and additional genetic and environmental aspects are believed to be involved.

In “ID-DarkMatter-NCD”, the consortium aims to unravel this complex interplay of IDs, genetic, and environmental factors in triggering immune-related NCDs by following a multi-disease and multi-level analytical approach.

More information:

Press release, Medical University of Vienna, 12 January, 2024

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