Edited by Pia-Maria Blaas, Scientific Coordinator BTCure
European Workshop on
microRNAs and Immune System
Zurich, April 8 - 10, 2014
For researchers interested in micro RNA research in Autoimmune Disease, a
workshop took place in Zurich from April 8-10, 2014. The workshop was
organized by Prof. Steffen and Renate Gay form the University of Zurich, who are
BTCure` s leading experts in epigenetic control mechanisms. The workshop was
a co-initiative of SIICA, the Società Italiana Immunoliga, and DGfI, the German
society for immunology and BTCure and was supported by industrial partners
Pfizer, Novartis, and Roche. The workshop received a lot of interest with
approximatly120 participants attending the meeting. The meeting was also
attended by many BTCure members, among them in particular microRNA
experts and speakers as Christian Jorgensen (WP1C leader), Florence Apparailly
(Montpellier), George Kollias (WP1B leader, Athens), Stephan Blueml (Vienna),
Dimitrios Boumpas (Crete), Caroline Ospelt (Zurich), Andreas Radbruch,
Mir‐Farzin Mashrehi (DRFZ), and Panagiotis Verginis (Greece), Mariola
Kurowska-Stolarska, Glasgow. Furthermore, BTCure’s coordinator Tom Huizinga
from Leiden was present. As during our first microRNA workshop in Montpellier
in 2012 (click here for report), in addition to RA-associated microRNAs also this
time other general areas were covered: as the role of microRNAs in
immunological cancers and in other immune diseases (e.g. as OA, effects on bone
deformation in general, SLEs, nephritis, systemic sclerosis, multiple sclerosis,
etc.) Moreover, different types of “non coding” ncRNAs and RNA regulators were
discussed this time.
Summary of presented topics:
 The role of miRNAs in the differentiation, activation, proliferation,
survival of immune cells, in particular of B and T cell subsets but also in
DC, monocytes, stem cells, NKT, etc.
 The function of microRNAs in health and disease, as their interaction with
pathways that are affected in conditions as cancer, auto-immune disease
and inflammation
 Introduction of different types of ncRNAs besides micro RNAs: such as e.g.
PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs), small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs), and in
particular long-non coding RNAs, macroRNAs, etc., their identification,
specificity and potential role. Along with microRNAs, the deregulation of
these ncRNAs has been found to have relevance in several diseases.
Edited by Pia-Maria Blaas, Scientific Coordinator BTCure
Examples for microRNAs that could work as potential biomarkers as in
patients resistant to biologics treatment, and examples for microRNA as
potential targets for inhibition and their potential future clinical use
Some exemplary discussed microRNAs: mir-146, -148, -181, -150, -19b, 221, -222, -323-3p, -155, 34, -21, -203, -221, -222, -200a*, -152, -218,
199a/b, 29a, etc.
Targeting microRNA pathways by lipid nano-capsules
This year`s microRNA workshop in Zurich was recognized for its very efficient
organization and lead to interesting and fruitful discussion of presented results.
In the evening there was plenty room for socializing and follow-up discussions.
Renate Gay, as the soul of the meeting, organized a wonderful social event in
form of dinner on a boat cruising on the Zurich Lake, which was very well
Outlook: During the meeting it was highlighted that currently different groups
use different methods for microRNA analysis and measurement. In the future it
would be important to improve collaborations in this area and to validate the
detection of microRNAs as e.g. in blood for their future, broader use as disease
biomarkers. Thus, the suggestions was brought up, to focus one of the next
workshops on technical aspects, as reviewing the different types microRNA
assessments and to commonly work on the standardization of methods. A
smaller workshop on this question could be organized next time in Milano,
followed by a larger, more scientific workshop in Germany 2016.