Prof. Alberto Mantovani – Scientific Director of Humanitas – on the occasion of the launch of the campaign “Inside Life” spoke about the goals and new perspectives of immunological research and the importance of the 5×1000.
The 5×1000 has two values: an economic one because because it helps us to do research, to acquire the best equipment and to give scholarships and funding to our young people and it is in our young people the hope for the future. It also has a value that goes beyond economic support: it makes us feel that the citizens of this country consider scientific research as a priority and this closeness to civil society is an extremely important dimension of the 5×1000 for those who do research.
What does it mean to be “inside life”?
For me, being “inside life” has two dimensions. A first dimension is that of research and understanding of the mechanisms of life, in particular those of the life of the cells of the immune system: how they defend us, how we can stop them when they are wrong, how we can reactivate them when we need them, as in the case of cancer. Being “inside life” from this point of view lays the foundations for developing new diagnoses and new therapies. A second dimension is that of being “inside the life” of patients and never forgetting the challenge that patients pose, their suffering and their hopes.
The role of Immunology and the importance of the immune system
Autoimmune diseases and auto-inflammatory diseases affect about 20% of the population. Immunology has had a profound impact through different diseases: it has had an impact on the treatment and diagnosis of autoimmune diseases, but also on diseases that apparently have nothing to do with autoimmune diseases, such as cancer.
The immune system is like a big orchestra of which we do not yet know all the orchestras and all the instruments that are played. Identifying orchestras and instruments has made it possible, for example, to develop new therapies against autoimmune diseases and inflammatory diseases.
Research in Humanitas
At Humanitas we are actively engaged in Research in the field of Immunology and its application to diseases. We have cutting-edge equipment, such as imaging equipment that allows us to see the cells and molecules of the immune system. We do what is called Next Generation Sequencing, i.e. genomic and generally homic approaches to the functioning of the immune system and to the diagnosis and treatment of diseases on an immunological basis.
The projects we are dedicated to range from classic autoimmune diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis) and inflammatory diseases (such as intestinal, lung and skin diseases) to cancer.