Research Unit

Beyaert Unit - Molecular Signal Transduction in Inflammation (VIB)

01 January 1996 → Ongoing
Group leader
Other information
Research disciplines
  • Medical and health sciences
    • Adaptive immunology
    • Allergology
    • Applied immunology
    • Autoimmunity
    • Immunogenetics
    • Inflammation
    • Innate immunity
Dysregulated inflammation and immunity may lead to the development of autoimmune diseases and cancer. The overall aim of our research is to understand the underlying molecular mechanisms, since we are convinced that further insight into these mechanisms should facilitate the development of much-needed therapeutic strategies for treatment of inflammatory diseases and cancer. An important scientific challenge is the elucidation of the complex role of key signaling molecules in the fine-tuning and self-limiting nature of signaling. One of the molecules we are studying is the paracaspase MALT1, for which we previously discovered a unique proteolytic activity that has led to a conceptual breakthrough in immune cell signaling and the development of novel therapeutic approaches. Understanding the function and regulation of MALT1 in immune and non-immune cells such as epithelial barrier cells and epithelial cancer cells is currently a major research focus. As a completely novel track towards understanding mechanisms that mediate the self-limiting nature of inflammation, we are studying the biosynthesis and anti-inflammatory function of endogenous ‘phytohormones’ in mammals. Finally, we are using innovative protein engineering approaches to develop novel cytokine targeting biologics as new tools to treat immune-system related disease. The above mentioned research objectives are studied at the molecular, cellular and whole organism level using several advanced cell biological and molecular biological methods combined with conditional gene targeting, mouse models of human disease and studies on patient samples. The diseases of interest are psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, diabetes, cancer, and primary immunodeficiency.