Immun4cure: a university hospital institute (IHU) focusing on autoimmune diseases

Supported by the Montpellier University Hospital, Inserm and the University of Montpellier, and coordinated by Christian Jorgensen, Director of theIRMB, the Immun4cure project has just been accredited as a university hospital institute. As such, it has been awarded a €20 million grant to develop research and care in the field of autoimmune diseases.

Nearly 80 diseases are caused by a dysfunction of the immune system, leading it to attack the healthy tissues of its own body. Examples include systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease and type 1 diabetes. The second most common cause of chronic pain, these autoimmune diseases affect eight times more women than men, making them a real public health issue. Managing them is a major challenge, due to their increasing frequency, the significantly rising cost of treatment, and the difficulties involved in diagnosis.

Ambitious goals

To meet this challenge, an entire team was formed around Christian Jorgensen, Director of the Institute of Regenerative Medicine and Biotherapy (IRMB), to imagine a University Hospital Institute (IHU) dedicated to these systemic autoimmune diseases. Supported by Montpellier University Hospital, Inserm and the University of Montpellier, Immun4care has been selected by the ANR from among 25 applications. It joins the 7 national HCIs already accredited and has been awarded a €20 million grant as part of the France 2030 plan. This sum will be used to federate Montpellier's many multi-disciplinary skills, bringing together 15 research teams and over 200 staff.  

The IHU has a number of objectives, the foremost of which is to gain a better understanding of systemic autoimmune diseases by modeling the immune response, and to detect these diseases at an earlier stage. With the IHU, the 3 partners aim to offer patients an optimized care pathway by promoting access to innovative curative therapies based in particular on the development of RNA technologies. In the short term, patients will be able to benefit from cutting-edge medical analyses, take part in personalized, à la carte clinical trials by integrating patient cohorts, and gain access to innovative precision immunotherapies / biotherapies. The IHU will also support the creation of a health school to provide training in the use of these new strategies.

Strong regional roots

Immun4cure is part of the MedVallée global cluster of excellence in global health, supported by the Montpellier Metropole, and benefits from the policy of support for biotherapies backed by the Occitanie Regional Council. It complements other initiatives such as theInstitut ExposUM, theEcole de santé numérique and the Pôle universitaire d'innovation, and confirms Montpellier's determination to become a key international player in the fields of health, the environment and food.