Chronic inflammation occurs if the natural process to restrain inflammation (resolution) is not functioning properly. Dr. Gijs Kooij receives a 800 k€ Vidi grant from NWO and a 465 k€ fellowship grant from the Dutch MS research foundation to unravel how this natural protection mechanism works in order to exploit it in the combat against chronic inflammatory disorders like multiple sclerosis (MS).
Inflammation is a host-protective response when properly orchestrated. Beside immune checkpoints, the inflammatory cascade boasts an additional checkpoint, driven by chemical lipid mediators that induce resolution of inflammation. These novel autacoids, called specialized pro-resolving lipid mediators (SPMs), not only inhibit the inflammatory response, they also actively terminate it, leading to the restoration of tissue homeostasis. Novel sensitive detection methods (i.e. lipidomics) have set the stage to identify and decode these SPMs, which opens new perspectives on the pathogenesis of chronic (unresolved) inflammatory diseases, leading to a novel pharmacological approach.
Gijs has recently shown that in the chronic neuro-inflammatory disorder MS, the machinery of protective resolution is severely disturbed, which in turn contributes to disease progression. In particular, he revealed the absence of the neuro-protective SPMs in both cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and plasma of MS patients, ranging from relapsing-remitting to progressive MS, and unraveled a unique lipid mediator fingerprint associated with the clinical course. With these exciting findings, he will now elucidate how altered inflammation-resolving mechanisms underlie disease pathogenesis by investigating both fundamental (Vidi) and clinical (fellowship) aspects. His ultimate goal is to provide novel diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic opportunities for MS and other chronic (neuro-)inflammatory diseases based on resolution pharmacology.