The primary objective of the proposed Research Unit is the identification and determination of early molecular mechanisms and pathways that are responsible for the initiation of autoimmunity and onset of inflammation in RA patients. Foremost, two key questions remain to be answered:
Which mechanisms influence the breach of tolerance and autoimmunity in healthy individuals (Step 1)?
Which events define the transition from autoimmunity to inflammation in RA (Step 2)?
The objectives within the research group are the elucidation of the mechanisms triggering the onset of autoimmunity (projects A) and those that promote the transition from autoimmunity to inflammation in RA (projects B). In addition, a re-induction of immunological tolerance in RA patients is to be achieved in a clinical trial (project C1). The information gained from these projects will enable the identification of new mechanisms of early disease as well as the definition of new targets for the prevention of disease.