In the late summer, some of our group members had the opportunity to attend the European Meeting on Complement in Human Disease (EMCHD 2022) in Bern. For most of us it was the first in-person complement conference and we were introduced to the friendly complement research family.
Where? Bern, Switzerland
What? 18th European Meeting on Complement in Human Disease
Who? Diana, Vero, Pratiti, Hannah, Juliane
Contributions? Posters of Vero, Pratiti, Hannah & Juliane; Chairing of scientific session VII by Diana
The conference was organized by members of the European Complement Network (ECN) that are based in Bern. Four full days of lectures and talks offered a great overview about recent findings in the complement field. The research topics widely varied from canonical and non-canonical roles of the complement system to complement-associated diseases, infections including COVID-19, complement genetics, specific methods, protein structure analysis and therapeutic targets of the complement system.
In two big poster sessions researchers had the opportunity to present their projects focussing on various aspects of the complement system. Members of our group also contributed posters to this event. Vero introduced the complement network to SciFiMed, the European-wide multidisciplinary research project funded by European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme and led by Diana. With a beautiful poster, Vero presented SciFiMed’s project plan, recent findings and other members that were present. Pratiti, as a member of SciFiMed, showed her latest work regarding the identification of two specific binders against the FH-related (FHR) protein 3. The FHR protein family is associated with the complement dysregulation that is involved in the disease development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Explaining the novel methodology of phage display, Pratiti provided exciting insights into the world of FHR-binding partners and biotechnology.
Next, Hannah presented a poster with her newest project involving the characterization and analysis of human brain microvascular endothelial cells. They play an important role during autoantibody transmigration through the blood-brain- and inner-blood-retinal-barrier, a pathological phenomenon that for example takes place in Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (NMOSD). With her work, Hannah showed an interesting influence of the anaphylatoxins C3a and C5a on the endothelial barrier integrity.
Lastly, Juliane presented a maturation model of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells to study the cellular complement system. Several retinal diseases such as AMD are associated with a loss of the mature RPE phenotype, but the underlying causes are still unclear. In her project, Juliane identified different maturation-dependent complement profiles of RPE cells that could help to elucidate disease pathomechanisms.
All in all, we had a really great experience in Bern. We had a nice time filled with many informative talks, glitter buttons and delicious vegan burgers. Especially the conference dinner on the lake of Lucerne was a wonderful event that we will surely remember for long! We are already looking forward to the next complement conference that will take place 2023 in Newcastle, UK.