The project will explore the biology of human autoreactive plasma cells

BioMed X has announced the launch of a new call for applications for immunology research in autoimmune diseases.

The independent biomedical research institute aims to assemble a new research team to develop innovative strategies for neutralising plasma cells in relation to autoimmune diseases.

Autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s natural defence system cannot distinguish the difference between its own cells and foreign cells, causing it to mistakenly attack normal cells.

Common autoimmune diseases include inflammatory bowel disease, which accounts for 10% to 15% of the world population; multiple sclerosis, which is estimated to affect 2.8 million people worldwide; and lupus, which affects more than five million people globally.

Currently, therapeutic strategies for autoimmune diseases mainly focus on broadly suppressing immune responses, with significant side effects.

Additionally, none of these treatments address the root cause of the disease, known as autoreactive plasma cells, which produce antibodies that target self-antigens.

The BioMed X project team call for applications will be sponsored by its pharmaceutical partner, Servier, which focuses on research areas including cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, immune-inflammatory diseases and neuropsychiatric diseases.

Located at the BioMed X Institute in Heidelberg, Germany, the new team will explore the biology of human autoreactive plasma cells to establish biomarkers that distinguish them from their physical counterparts and identify new therapeutic strategies to selectively eliminate these cells in patients living with autoimmune diseases.

Christian Tidona, founder and managing director of the BioMed X Institute, said: “Currently, we are hosting five immunology research teams at different stages of development.”

Set to begin next May, candidates will be offered a fully funded research group with an annual budget of €950,000, covering salaries, consumables, services, travel costs and access to facilities of neighbouring research in Heidelberg.

Additionally, they will receive an initial term of three years, with the possibility of an additional two years, a research opportunity in a multidisciplinary and international research institution and participation in BioMed X’s Boot Camp to build pitch presentations.