24th June 2021, Sixth ParadigMS Symposium,The ParadigMS Foundation and the Belgian Study Group for Multiple Sclerosis (BSGMS) organised their annual symposium. Here you can review the full keynote on Innate Immunity and the Role of Microglia in MS.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system characterised by inflammation in early stages, followed by neurodegeneration and progressive disability as the disease advances. Despite the fact that many disease-modifying therapies are now available, it is evident in many patients that disability continues to progress despite adequate control of relapse activity. Extensive research into this phenomenon has shown that innate immune cell activation in the brain, involving macrophages and microglial cells, gives rise to a ‘smouldering’ pathology characterised by chronic active lesions associated with ongoing neuronal damage, brain atrophy and disability progression. As the role of activated microglia in these lesions can be studied with advanced imaging techniques such as positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the development of targeted therapies now becomes a reality.
In this ParadigMS Foundation Keynote, Professor Laura Airas provides a comprehensive overview of the innate immune cell pathobiology in MS and share with you the latest research findings in this evolving field. Indeed, if relapse activity can be controlled and drugs developed to combat ongoing neurodegeneration and disability progression then we will have come a long way to stopping MS in its tracks.
Professor Clinical Neurosciences & Professor of Neuroimmunology
Neurologist Laura Airas is Professor of Neuroimmunology at the University of Turku, Finland, where she also obtained her MD. After graduation, and then completing her PhD on immunology and cell biology, she specialized in neurology, obtaining a neurology consultant status in 2001 and the title of docent in neurology in 2007.
She founded her own research group in 2002, studying the immunology of pregnancy in MS. Currently, she leads a research group to develop treatments for neuroimmunological diseases where no effective treatments are yet available, such as progressive MS. The group’s main aim is to elucidate the pathological mechanisms of progressive MS by using a multi-modal approach which includes PET, advanced MRI, and soluble biomarker analysis.
Professor Airas is an experienced clinician, and well connected with scientists of different backgrounds. She spends half of her professional time as a clinical neurologist, consulting for MS patients, while also actively participating in research and clinical trials for MS.
Laura Airas has authored over 100 peer-reviewed articles in international journals. In 2015 she received an international Grant for Multiple Sclerosis Innovation award, and in 2016–2017 she spent an academic year as a visiting professor at Yale University, Connecticut, USA.