Program leaders: Joep Killestein, Diederik van de Beek
Taskforce team: Elga de Vries, Ivo van Schaik
Rationale and common goals
The aim of the neuro-inflammation and –infection program is to conduct clinical and translational research of international distinction, in parallel with compassionate and innovative care of the highest quality. The focus of the research is on multiple sclerosis, meningitis & encephalitis, and inflammatory neuropathies. In these areas, VUmc/VU (MS Center Amsterdam) and AMC (Neuroinfections Amsterdam) have leading roles both national and international, both from a clinical and a research perspective. Research on the blood-brain-barrier, a crucial dominator of multiple sclerosis and meningitis, is strongly encouraged. Innovative projects outside these areas of primary interest are welcomed, though. Translational research is performed through an integrative approach running from bedside to molecule and vice versa. The merge of two strongly related research programs from VUmc and AMC provide increased critical mass, optimal use of facilities and knowledge, and thereby increases the quality of our research and publications.
Assets: unique patient cohorts
Our major assets are large and unique patient cohorts, together with a strong translational link to basic sciences. About 50 percent of all newly diagnosed MS patients in the Netherlands visit the MS Center Amsterdam for a consultation. For bacterial meningitis a continued nationwide surveillance is performed in collaboration with the Netherlands Reference Laboratory for Bacterial Meningitis, in which clinical data clinical and samples of all Dutch patients with meningitis, including causative bacteria, is being collected. This has resulted in internationally unequalled biobanks on MS and meningitis. Another major asset of this program is the strong translational link combining clinical and experimental research (see below). Previous results have been quickly translated into patient care.
Translational links: importance in neurological diseases
Neuroinflammation is considered crucial in multiple sclerosis, infection, and inflammatory neuropathies, but the concept of neuroinflammation is important in many other neurological diseases, i.e., neurodegenerative disease. In these areas, we perform prospective clinical cohort studies, randomized clinical trials, and experimental research, combining our clinical expertise with groundbreaking, translational approaches using clinical data, human samples, next generation sequencing, in vitro techniques, and mouse models. By using in vitro and in vivo disease models new targets for therapies can be tested. In the various lines of research, unique models have been developed that facilitate target finding for new therapies and for testing mechanisms and preclinical effects of new emerging therapies. Subsequently, we undertake a broad range of clinical research from first-in-man studies to large national and international multicenter clinical trials.
Making the difference?
The research program includes more than 110 researchers of different disciplines who collaborate to answer questions regarding the cause and cure of MS, meningitis, and inflammatory neuropathies, and will be without any doubt within the top five in its field worldwide. The interdisciplinary interaction between neurology, radiology, pathology, immunology, infectious diseases, and microbiology within one center is quite unique worldwide, with an outstanding research track record and very high number of top publications.