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The Phenomenon of Inflammation

Millions of people in Germany fall ill because one of the body’s essential reactions — inflammation — gets out of control and becomes chronic. Processes that normally ward off pathogens destroy the body’s own tissue, almost everywhere in the body.

Diseases caused by chronic inflammation are for example Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, eczema, rheumatism, asthma, periodontitis and multiple sclerosis. Inflammation can lead to cancer and also seem to play a significant role in diseases such as diabetes, obesity, atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction. They are currently incurable and rank among the most significant challenges of our time for the healthcare system. This is particularly true because it is still not exactly understood how an originally salubrious reaction of the body turns into a process that makes people sick. There is no single cause for the illness, but rather a group of factors that cause disease. Decoding these and developing new methods of treatment are central research questions of the 21st century.

Focused expertise for the benefit of patients

The Cluster of Excellence "Inflammation at Interfaces" has been dedicated to answering these questions since 2007 and has contributed significantly to a better understanding of chronic inflammation. The 300 participating scientists and physicians spanning all disciplines have been working together to bring the results of the foundational research to patients more quickly.

They are focusing their expertise, examining the inflammatory processes in the body from different perspectives and are trying to find out which genetic factors and external conditions are present in those affected and what effect environmental factors, nutrition and lifestyle have on the course of the diseases. This not only concerns new and targeted effective therapies, but above all, the objective is to detect inflammatory processes early on before they become clinically relevant, to stop their progress.

In the search for therapies to alleviate and cure the diseases, a new perspective and a more holistic approach have been established in inflammation research in recent years, in which the inflammatory process itself as the cause of the diseases is the focus – and not the single organ.

 

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