Thu, 28/03/2024
Looking back and ahead: SFB/CRC 128 symposium provides new perspectives on MS research
The SFB/CRC 128 Symposium, themed “Multiple sclerosis and related disorders – past, present, and future,” unfolded on April 29th and 30th, 2024, within the historic Castle of Münster University and thus at the center of the city. This symposium garnered significant attendance and served as an exemplary forum to discuss advances in the field, present […]...more
Thu, 15/09/2022
Photo gallery: Inflammation & Imaging Symposium in the MIC building
Muenster. From September 12th to 14th scientists from Muenster University and their international guests discussed the latest developments in research on inflammation and the imaging of the immune system at the 2nd Inflammation & Imaging Symposium. The annual event is jointly organised by several research networks from Münster, among them the CRC/TRR 128 “Multiple Sclerosis”. […]...more
Tue, 28/06/2022
CRC Retreat in Münster
Muenster. After a long pause, more than 90 participants of the CRC joined in Muenster Factory Hotel to update on the latest developments. We heard the most recent on a selection of the CRC projects and there was also plenty of time for fruitful discussion and socializing in the evening....more

Thu, 28/03/2024 | Looking back and ahead: SFB/CRC 128 symposium provides new perspectives on MS research

The SFB/CRC 128 Symposium, themed “Multiple sclerosis and related disorders – past, present, and future,” unfolded on April 29th and 30th, 2024, within the historic Castle of Münster University and thus at the center of the city. This symposium garnered significant attendance and served as an exemplary forum to discuss advances in the field, present novel research avenues and treatment strategies, and address central scientific questions and unmet clinical needs in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and neuroimmunology.

Commencing early on Monday morning, the event attracted an audience of over 100 basic and translational scientists, many of whom have worked as members of the DFG-funded collaborative research center 128, “Multiple Sclerosis.” The symposium showcased the translation of medical research from bench to bedside, providing a comprehensive overview of the current state and future directions of research in MS and neuroimmunology through inspirational talks, engaging discussions, and poster presentations.

Frauke Zipp (Mainz) and Heinz Wiendl (Münster), the co-spokespersons of the SFB/CRC, inaugurated the symposium by examining the evolution in the MS field and its needed development in the next decade. They focused on trends such as biomarkers of disease and therapy response, enabling individualized treatment of MS in the (near) future. Then, the audience delved into neuroimmunology with Jonathan Kipnis (St. Louis), who provided new insights into brain-immune interactions at the brain’s borders. Roland Liblau (Toulouse) presented his latest work on tissue-resident T cells and the chronicity of CNS inflammatory diseases. Britta Engelhardt (Bern) outlined her novel research that is devoted to understanding the function of the different brain barriers in regulating CNS immune surveillance and how their impaired function contributes to neuroinflammatory diseases such as MS. With his talk on neuroprotection through inflammatory cytokines, Burkhard Becher (Zurich) provided insights into the latest developments in this exciting field of research.

The subsequent session on myelin, chaired by Ludia Sorokin (Münster), focused on the role of oligodendrocytes. While Martin Kerschensteiner (Munich) questioned if (and how) surviving oligodendrocytes contribute to remyelination, Tanja Kuhlmann (Münster) discussed the consequences of oligodendrocytes in MS lesions. Peter Calabresi (Baltimore) elaborated on how complement C3 defines disease-associated glial subtypes mediating neuroinflammation and neuronal pathology. Neuroinflammation leads to neuronal stress responses that contribute to neuronal dysfunction and loss. Manuel Friese (Hamburg) provided a closer look at the neuronal inflammatory stress response in MS and ways to therapeutically address it.

Vinzenz Fleischer (Mainz) opened the session on imaging in MS by examining structural brain networks and his talks was complemented by Albrecht Stroh (Mainz). Benedetta Bodini (Toulouse) shared thoughts and data about the past, current, and future role of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging in MS. Alexander Flügel (Göttingen) highlighted the impact of live cell imaging on our understanding of T cell function under homeostatic and autoimmune conditions in the brain.

In the past 12 years, the CRC 128 has contributed to the careers of many young scientists. In the young investigator talk, six of them gave a concise glimpse into their specialty. Beatrice Wasser (Mainz) spoke about how interference with AMPA receptor signaling ameliorates neuroinflammation, while Lisa Richter (Munich) explained the role of IL-6 in shaping local immune milieus in the CNS. Louisa Müller-Miny (Münster) outlined how CSF flow cytometry can help diagnose and understand neuroimmunology by showing use case examples and perspectives; and Timo Uphaus (Mainz) thought outside the box by illustrating the function of the blood-brain barrier not only in neuroinflammation but also in ischemic stroke. Clara de la Rosa del Val (Munich) provided insights into essential cytokines driving macrophage phenotypes in neuroinflammation. The final talk in this session was given by Andreas Schulte-Mecklenbeck (Münster), who presented a study on immune profiling revealing that discrete cellular immune fingerprints indicate distinct disease trajectories in early MS, recently published in Science Translation Medicine.

The session on “Novel directions and technologies” was opened by chair Martin Kerschensteiner (Munich), who introduced Alexandre Prat (Montreal) who exceptionally highlighted the benefit of single-cell RNA sequencing for understanding human MS and ALS brain endothelial cells. Tobias Bopp (Mainz) elaborated on the role of metabolic communication in the development and manifestation of autoimmunity, while Gerd Meyer zu Hörste (Münster) gave an overview of his latest work studying brain borders in neuroinflammation. The integration of large data from high-throughput technologies into complex models is one of the biggest challenges for future high-tech medicine. Sergio Baranzini (San Francisco) presented solutions to this in his lecture on integrating “omics” with AI for precision medicine. With her insights into the mechanisms of action of B cell depletion therapies in MS, Jen Gommerman (Toronto) built a bridge to the sixth session of the symposium that asked, “Is there still a role for T cell immunology, or should we prioritize B cells in understanding MS?” Chair Sven Meuth (Düsseldorf) opened this second day of the symposium where the focus shifted from MS to other neuroimmunologic diseases.

In this first session of the second day, Jan Lünemann (Münster) provided an overview of his highly topical research on functional signatures of encephalitogenic antibodies in CNS autoimmune diseases. Fabienne Brilot (Sydney) examined biomarkers of a relapsing course in MOG antibody-associated disease; and Daniela Latorre (Zurich) used the example of Guillain-Barré-Syndrome to exemplify the role of autoreactive T cell immunity in human neurological autoimmune disorders. Edgar Meinl (Munich) closed the session by providing an overview of B cells and their mechanisms in neuro-immunology.

The final session, chaired by Aiden Haghikia (Magdeburg), was dedicated to learning pathogenesis via therapeutic intervention. Thomas Korn (Munich) emphasized the need for a fresh look at B cells in autoimmunity and – among other studies – presented his work on B cells in models of neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (NMOSD). Ari Waisman (Mainz) shared his insights on inflammatory mediators affecting blood barrier function in autoimmunity. Will cellular fingerprints help to evaluate clinical prognosis and decide on the treatment of MS? Luisa Klotz (Münster) and her team have conducted several studies on this topical question, and she discussed the main results in her talk. Naoto Kawakami (Munich) shared learnings acquired on the molecular mechanisms of T cell infiltration into the CNS with the audience. As the last speaker of this dense symposium, Nicholas Schwab (Münster) focused on reverse-translation and asked what next-generation sequencing of treatment cohorts can teach us about pathology.

Overall, all presentations reflected the enormous range of recent and ongoing MS research across the involved centers and worldwide. The principal investigators of the SFB/CRC 128 also summarized important findings from twelve years of research in this large-scale transregional DFG-funded project. Together with the distinguished guest speakers, they also gave ideas on where MS research should and will develop within the next decade.