On the occasion of the World Immunology Day, Humanitas has presented the first Italian Center for immune and inflammatory diseases. It was created to help patients who suffer from diseases that depend on dysfunctions in the immune system. In fact, the mechanisms that regulate immunity and inflammation depend on different diseases that are growing more frequent year after year. Crohn’s disease, bronchial asthma, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus. These are very common diseases that affect mainly women. Intestinal chronic inflammatory diseases affect around 200,000 people. Almost 25% of the population has some form of allergy and 6% suffers from asthma. Inflammatory rheumatic diseases affect 1-2% of the population. On the other hand, dermatological ones affect approximately 8% of the population.

Research has greatly moved forward in treating the symptoms of these diseases, but their origin is still unclear. So, it is paramount to keep investing in research and intervene before they show up. As Prof. Alberto Mantovani, scientific director of Humanitas and professor at Humanitas University, says, “Thanks to a better understanding of the immune system’s reporting mechanisms, we have made great progress in controlling autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Humanitas played a big role in these studies, both clinically and pre-clinically. However, there are still many challenges in front of us. The personalization of therapies, an integrated approach to patients, the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies and most importantly, the re-education of the immune system that attacks the wrong target. The body itself. This will be a fundamental success that can’t happen without research, both in the laboratory and at the patient’s bedside”.

A single integrated cure record for many diseases

Patients who suffer from autoimmune and inflammatory diseases are often not affected by a single disease of this kind. They need an integrated, wide-ranging overview of their state of health, as well as personalized, innovative diagnoses and treatments. For this reason Humanitas Immuno Center, created bearing in mind Precision Medicine, integrates many clinical competences in research. Gastroenterology with Prof. Silvio Danese, Pneumology and Allergology with Prof. Giorgio Walter Canonica, Dermatology with Prof. Antonio Costanzo, and Rheumatology with .

The Center for immune and inflammatory diseases joins clinical and research aspects

The close link between research and clinical activity allows a faster transfer of the latest discoveries. From the laboratory to the patient’s bedside. Such are the testing of new markers to diagnose and monitor the disease. Patients may more easily access new wide-ranging therapies.
Prof. Silvio Danese, coordinator of the Center for immune and inflammatory diseases, supervisor of the Intestinal Chronic Inflammatory Diseases Center and professor at Humanitas University, comments: “For instance, intestinal chronic inflammatory diseases share the same molecular mechanisms of the inflammatory diseases affecting skin and joints. Understanding such complex mechanisms, is the first step towards therapeutic innovation with new biological medications. Hence, it is possible to treat many inflammations in different organs at the same time”. Patients who suffer from this condition are at a higher risk of co-morbidity, so it is important to control and defuse the inflammation.

The management of patients with skin and rheumatic diseases

As Prof. Antonio Costanzo, supervisor of Dermatology at the hospital and professor at Humanitas University, explains, “Our skin gives many clues about systemic diseases and skin inflammations may facilitate the occurrence of cardiovascular, rheumatic and respiratory diseases. For this reason, patients with skin inflammatory diseases, such as psoriasis, atopic dermatitis or rashes, have to be treated by a dermatologist and a multidisciplinary team of specialists”.

As Prof. Carlo Selmi, supervisor of Rheumatology at the hospital and Professor at Università degli Studi di Milano, explains, “Rheumatic diseases are often systemic, that is to say, they may affect different organs. For instance, patients with arthritis are likely to develop psoriasis, intestinal inflammatory diseases and pulmonary inflammation. It is paramount to put patients at the core of an all-inclusive clinical vision, in order to offer them more effective, personalized treatments that will prevent disabilities”.

As Prof. Giorgio Walter Canonica, supervisor of the Personalized Medicine Center, “Asthma and Allergie” of Humanitas and Πrofessor at Humanitas University, comments, “Modern Pneumology needs a multidisciplinary team to treat the patients who suffer from asthma or other pulmonary inflammatory diseases, in the best way. The pneumologist-allergologist applies Precision Medicine, that uses biological medications to target the cause of the disease, that is often the same for different diseases of different organs. Moreover, they apply Personalized Medicine, that focuses on the patient with the help of the dermatologist, the gastroenterologist and the rheumatologist”.

Attention to gender-related diseases

Autoimmune and inflammatory diseases are getting more frequent. Τhey may be considered a paradigm of gender-related diseases. For instance, rheumatoid arthritis, that happens in a 7:1 proportion of women to men. Humanitas opened this Center in order to pay particular attention to preventing, diagnosing and treating feminine diseases. TImmune and Inflammatory Diseaseshey got the pink mark from ONDA (National Observatory for Women’s Health) for the Women’s Hospital Project for the third year running.

Some diseases treated in the Center

Gastroenterology: intestinal inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, indeterminate colitis, microscopic colitis (lymphocytic colitis, collagenous colitis, eosinophilic colitis).
Dermatology: psoriasis, atopic dermatitis of children and adults, rashes, suppurative hydradenitis, scleroderma, cutaneous lupus and auto-inflammatory diseases.
Pneumology: bronchial asthma, allergic flogosis, peripheral and systemic eosinophilias (including also polyps), EGPA – Churg-strauss syndrome, mastocytosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Rheumatology: rheumatic arthritis and spondyloarthritis (psoriatic and IBD-related), connective tissue diseases (lupus, systemic sclerosis, myositis, Sjögren’s syndrome).