Autoimmune diseases affect several 100 million people world wide and are a tremendous public health problem comparable with heart disease and cancer. This project focus on a group of severe autoimmune diseases with inflammation in the vessels, called anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody associated systemic vasculitis (AAV). AAV cause rapidly progressive renal failure and life threatening lung bleedings if left untreated. Delay in treatment can rapidly lead to deterioration of vital organ function or death. On the other hand institution of immunosuppressive therapy would be deleterious for patients with infections.
Our hypothesis is that the primary cause of AAV is an acquired intrinsic cellular abnormality of the leukocytes, possibly triggered by an infectious agent. We focus on deciphering the underlying disease biology and translating this into new concepts of treatment as well as development of new diagnostics. All experiments are performed in close collaboration between the lab and the clinic, and are composed of both hypothesis driven and hypothesis generating investigations. Current projects involve studies of leukocyte function, activation and complement activation, but also large collaborative work on genetics and proteomics. If successful, we will develop new diagnostic tools that can facilitate diagnosing vasculitis and foreseing relapses, and ultimately find a curative treatment.