Report on the 8th SciCom Workshop at ECCO'20

Sebastian Zeissig, SciCom Chair

Michael Scharl

Marc Ferrante

Sebastian Zeissig

Similarities and differences in the pathogenesis of immune-mediated inflammatory disorders 

This year’s SciCom Workshop focussed on common and distinct pathways in immune-mediated disorders and the application of this knowledge for early disease recognition and interception as well as for the treatment of established disease.

Michael Scharl introduced the workshop with a brief overview of the topic. As first speaker, Andre Franke from Kiel, Germany presented an elegant talk on the genetic aspects of intestinal and non-intestinal inflammatory diseases. Starting with fascinating work on IBD, he illustrated how host genetics can impact on the function of the immune system and influence the disease course. He also presented novel data on the functional consequences of IBD risk alleles. In the second part of his talk, he discussed the relationship between primary sclerosing cholangitis and IBD and showed that these distinct diseases of the gut and the liver are tightly linked by related genetic and immunological alterations.

The second speaker, Arthur Kaser from Cambridge, UK, demonstrated the importance of immune cell migration in the control of organ-specific disease manifestations. Taking vedolizumab effects as an example, he elegantly illustrated how alterations in the migration of immune cell subsets contribute to disease manifestation and perpetuation and can therefore serve as excellent therapeutic targets in immune diseases.

The second session focussed on the prevention and treatment of immune-mediated inflammatory diseases. Starting from examples in diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, Jean-Frederic Colombel gave a provocative and intriguing talk on possibilities of preventing IBD. Several studies using prospectively maintained biobanks have already shown the predictive role of serological biomarkers in asymptomatic individuals, but the accuracy of these and other markers probably needs to be improved before embarking on prevention trials. Furthermore, the best intervention in such an at-risk population is currently unknown. Although biological therapies are the most potent agents for patients with known IBD, their costs and potential side effects make them less attractive in a preventive setting. Life-style changes, including dietary modification, are probably more acceptable and studies addressing this question are currently underway.

Thomas Kündig closed the workshop with a fascinating overview of the different phenotypic manifestations of inflammatory diseases of the skin. In addition, he demonstrated, through the lens of biological targeting of the IL-23 pathway, how interference with a pathway centrally involved in the pathogenesis of psoriasis can revert established disease and eliminate signs of disease manifestation in a large proportion of affected individuals. Although not representative of true ‘cure’, owing to the dependence of the improvements on continued medical treatment, this example demonstrates the power of targeted therapy for the treatment of immune-mediated diseases and raises the question of whether similarly efficacious biologicals will soon be available for other inflammatory diseases such as IBD.

We would like to thank the speakers for their excellent presentations and the participating clinicians and basic scientists for highly interactive discussions, all of which contributed to a very successful SciCom Workshop.

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Posted in ECCO News, SciCom, Committee News, Congress News, ECCO'20, Volume 15, Issue 2