Immunological diseases encompass a wide variety of disorders, affecting a steadily increasing proportion of people living in modern societies. Immunological diseases include multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.During the past decade, dramatic advances have been made in understanding mechanisms regulating the immune system, its pathological processes, and processes of immune deviation. As such, it was recognized that systemic or organ-specific inflammatory, infectious and autoimmune conditions share basic mechanisms of initiation and progression. Further elucidation of these mechanisms promises to be of very high value for diagnosis and treatment of these disorders.
In this context, the MUGEN network of Excellence aims to structure and shape a world-class framework of European scientific and technological excellence in the field of “murine models for immunological disease”, to advance understanding of the genetic basis of disease and to enhance innovation and translatability of research efforts. MUGEN’s specific mission is to bring together different expertise from academic and industrial laboratories in order to study human immunological disease by integrating the participant institutions’ strengths in immunological knowledge with new approaches in functional genomics. By removing barriers to progress and promoting the synergistic interaction of scientists from various disciplines integrated, MUGEN expects to bring Europe a competitive advantage in the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic tools.
Through its Joint Programme of Activities, MUGEN aims to:
1. Systematically study animal models for immune diseases and processes through the application of functional genomic platforms (transgenesis, targeted and random mutagenesis, expression profiling and bioinformatics).
2. Integrate the outstanding research experience and capacities of each network participant to allow the efficient application of post-genomic approaches to generate new knowledge in immunological diseases and processes. Such knowledge is expected to lead to novel diagnostic and therapeutic tools.
3. Ensure spreading of excellence, optimal use and dissemination of the knowledge generated through the network beyond the boundaries of MUGEN, by integrating competencies to train researchers, to encourage knowledge transfer, to address innovation related aspects of research and to raise the public awareness of scientific research issues.
To achieve this goal, MUGEN is bringing together expertise from 14 leading research institutes, 5 major universities and 5 biotechnology companies from seven E.U. member states as well as Switzerland and the US. MUGEN will be co-funded by the EU with 11 M€ over a five year period (2005-2009). MUGEN participants will share information and technology platforms and will develop a coordinated agenda of scientific events in order to communicate their scientific achievements to a wider scientific audience as well as to the general public.