Discovery of medicines to improve the lives of the many patients living with immunological diseases.

Our immune defense is essential for protecting us against dangerous pathogens. But in millions of people, the same defenses switch allegiance and mistakenly attack healthy tissue and organs, causing debilitating and sometimes lethal illness. Autoimmune and inflammatory diseases are treated often with broadly immune-suppressing steroids that are only partially effective, can have troubling side effects, and increase the risk for infection.

The Immunology disease area group is developing transformative therapies, including small molecules and biotherapeutics, that target the root cause of these diseases by modulating the immune system to restore health.

Multiplex immunofluorescence staining illustrating intradermal sheets of migrating stratified squamous epithelium and associated inflammatory response in Hidradenitis suppurativa.
Multiplex immunofluorescence staining illustrating intradermal sheets of migrating stratified squamous epithelium and associated inflammatory response in Hidradenitis suppurativa.
Credit: Image provided by Lab Wieczorek.

Led by Christian Bruns, a group of more than 200 scientists collaborates with clinical researchers and uses cutting-edge analytical and computational tools and technologies to probe molecular disease pathways in tissue samples from affected patients. This approach allows us to stratify individuals based on treatment response and identify dysregulated immune pathways and novel molecular targets in disease pathology.

Our researchers have pioneered groundbreaking treatments for multiple sclerosis, organ transplantation, arthritis and inflammatory skin diseases as well as rare genetic diseases. The group's research focuses on these priority areas:

  • Adaptive Immunity: Our goal is to develop novel therapies to improve the life of patients affected by B cell- and T cell-mediated diseases like Sjögren's syndrome and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, as well as other systemic inflammatory and autoimmune disorders. Our focus lies on the rapid progression of innovative biotherapeutics and personalized cell therapies. Beyond this, we explore next-generation transformative approaches to modulate B cell and T cell behavior.
  • Immuno-dermatology: Our mission is to increase the molecular understanding of autoimmune and inflammatory skin diseases to enable the discovery of innovative therapies. Our research focuses on atopic dermatitis, hidradenitis suppurativa, inflammatory acne, psoriasis and vitiligo.
  • Immune regulation: We are focusing on immune sensing pathways in innate and adaptive immunity that mediate chronic inflammatory autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatologic autoinflammatory conditions.
  • Immuno-nephrology: Our mission is to discover innovative treatments for patients with acute and chronic kidney disease, end stage renal disease and transplantation.
  • Inflammasome: Our goal is to establish a leading portfolio of inflammasome inhibitors. The inflammasome is a key signaling node of the innate immune system. Our research addresses different aspects of inflammasome activation aiming at effective and differentiated new therapies.
  • Integrated Translational Research: We interconnect pharmacology and clinical sciences through characterization of patient samples. Our multidisciplinary approach addresses the molecular basis of inflammatory diseases, thus enabling precision medicine in immunology.

"Our ultimate goal is to develop transformative therapies resulting in cure," Bruns says. "That's a very high ambition, but we have access to state-of-the-art technologies, and a high level of expertise and experience both within our group and among our external collaborators that's allowing us to come up with novel innovative and transformative options for patients."

Reimagine medicine with Novartis

Learn about opportunities to join our team