RELENT NEWS | Issue 4 | 04/2019 (copy 1)
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RELENT NEWS | Issue 4 | 04/2019 (copy 1)

Welcome to the RELENT newsletter!

With this fourth issue of our bi-annual newsletter we would like to update you about the RELENT project - its participants and objectives, its progress and results.


RELENT in a nutshell

What is RELENT?

RELENT is a research project funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. RELENT stands for RELapses prevENTion in chronic autoimmune disease: common mechanisms and co-morbidities.
The RELENT Consortium is a multidisciplinary group of scientists and clinical investigators whose goal it is to develop individualized treatments for chronic autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and vasculitis.

Note from Prof. Renate Kain, M.D., Ph.D., Project Coordinator


Severe autoimmune and inflammatory diseases currently need to be treated with long-term immunosuppressive drugs that have significant side effects. Despite this, the outcome for individual patients varies considerably. We currently have no means of distinguishing from the outset which patients will suffer from frequent relapses of their disease – and therefore need intensive early treatment – from those who will not. The RELENT project will apply an entirely novel approach to systematically define common disease mechanisms in autoimmunity, involving a fast and high throughput discovery and validation process. By combining clinical and serological data with genetic and transcriptomic signatures to unravel the molecular mechanisms that determine disease outcome, we will be able to develop customised health care for people suffering from autoimmune disorders.

RELENT aims to shed light on the course and mechanisms of diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and vasculitis, and to develop improved diagnostics and intervention strategies with the expected impact of delaying the onset of chronic autoimmune diseases.

The work in the project is divided into six areas:

  • Identification of common pathways that influence disease outcome and response to treatment and infection (work package 1)
  • Identification of protein signatures that predict disease outcome and anticipate infective complications (work package 2)
  • The ageing immune system and its relation to the development of autoimmunity and co-morbidities (work package 3)
  • Pathogenic role of T cells and their interactions with myeloid cells (work package 4)
  • Dissemination, exploitation and communication (work package 5)
  • Project Management (work package 6)

The project started on November 1, 2015 with a project duration of 54 months.

Main project objectives of RELENT

RELENT´s overall mission is to

  • understand common mechanisms of diseases and their relevance in co-morbidities thereby transforming the clinical outcome for patients with severe autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, and to
  • provide the scientific underpinning by closing the knowledge gap in common mechanisms of disease. This should result in a more individualized and thus safer and more effective management for severe autoimmune and inflammatory disease.

The RELENT project will analyse data from a variety of measurements (clinical, serological, genetic, transcriptomic) and thus develop new biomarkers for these diseases. These should allow the tailoring of the most efficacious treatment to each patient with a chronic autoimmune disease.

News and Events

Over the course of the last year a number of members of the RELENT consortium have been in the news.

RELENT second periodic report published

The second periodic report describing the research progress was approved by the EU and published.
For more information see:

undefinedProject factsheet on EU portal Cordis

undefinedNews on EU portal Cordis

RELENT 4th General Assembly and 6th Steering Committee Meeting

The fourth RELENT Meeting took place in Ramsau, Austria in January 2019.

During the meeting in Ramsau progress updates of the various work packages were presented and future plans were discussed.


RELENT coordinator Prof. Renate Kain showcased as inspirational woman in Science by EU


Ahead of International Women’s Day, the EU is showcasing some inspirational #WomeninScience pushing the frontiers of #EUHealthResearch. We are proud that our coordinator of the RELENT project Prof. Renate Kain is one of them!

For more information see:


RELENT investigators present their research at the 19th international Vasculitis and ANCA workshop.

At the upcoming international vasculitis and ANCA workshop in Philadelphia, USA, RELENT investigators are prominently present and will present their work. The final abstracts will be published in the journal Rheumatology.


Two assays released by Hycult Biotech as part of RELENT collaborations !

As a partner in RELENT, Hycult Biotech explores new fields of research and aims to deepen its insight in the fields of autoimmunity and inflammation. The search for novel target proteins associated with RA (rheumatoid arthritis), IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) and AASV (ANCA associated systemic vasculitis) will allow the company to move further into the diagnostic field.
The main task of Hycult Biotech within the RELENT consortium is to facilitate translation of project findings into marketable diagnostic immunoassays for personalized medicine (WP2). As a first result of the collaborative efforts within the RELENT consortium, Hycult Biotech recently released two quantitative assays for the detection of circulating levels of proteinase 3 and alpha1-anti-trypsin both of which are now included into the research portfolio of Hycult Biotech.  

Meet the team @ University Medical Center Groningen, the Netherlands

The Vasculitis Expertise Center Groningen was founded in 2013 as a collaborative effort between clinician scientists and basic scientists from the departments of Nephrology, Pathology and Medical Biology and, Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology of the University Medical Center Groningen. In 2015, the center was officially accredited by the Dutch Federation of University Medical Centers (NFU). The vasculitis expertise center at the UMCG is both a center for primary care as well as a tertiary referral center for vasculitis patients in the Netherlands. Our central aims are a) to improve care for vasculitis patients, b) educate clinicians and researchers on vasculitis and c) to perform translational research in vasculitis patient cohorts in order to able to improve outcome, predict relapses and the best treatment for an individual vasculitis patient.

Major research areas include research on the pathogenesis and treatment of anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody (ANCA) mediated small vessel vasculitides (AAV) and large vessel vasculitides (in particular Giant cell arteritis) that are studied in a clinical translational research setting. Our current research focuses on one overarching theme that links aging, immunity, and chronic disease development.  Aging is associated with clear changes in immune cell distribution and function, collectively termed immunosenescence. This progressive imbalance in the immune system is associated with increased susceptibility to infections and with reduced responses to vaccination and cancer development. Also, a chronic smoldering inflammatory state known as inflamm-aging is thought to underlie an increased incidence of immune-mediated diseases in the aging population. Our research program is based on the premise that age is an intrinsic risk factor for the development of many chronic, immune-mediated systemic diseases. Many chronic diseases are triggered by an aberrant immune response to environmental challenges. Thus, understanding how the immune system dynamically develops along the life course of an individual is of major importance in terms of health and disease. Currently, our research focuses on three main objectives:

  1. Evaluation of normal immune-aging and the identification of accelerating environmental and other factors
  2. Understanding the development of chronic immune-mediated diseases.
  3. Identification of common molecular immune signatures in (late-onset) chronic inflammatory diseases.

Within the RELENT consortium Dr Elisabeth Brouwer of Vasculitis Expertise Center Groningen leads work package 3 entitled ‘The ageing immune system and its relation to the development of autoimmunity and co-morbidities’ with the overall purpose to identify common age-associated immune cell signatures that predispose to autoimmune disease and its relapses.

For more information on the Vasculitis Expertise Center Groningen follow us on twitter or visit our website (English version work in progress)


A complete and updated list of publications is available on the RELENT website:

We are also pleased to announce that the first set of iPSCs generated as part of RELENT has been registered. For more information see:

RELENT website and Social Media

The RELENT website went online on 29th of June 2016 and there you can find further information about the project, chronic autoimmune diseases, the partners and regular news about RELENT. Please pay us a visit and feel free to link your website to !
The RELENT project is also on Twitter, LinkedIn and ResearchGate. RELENT news will be posted regularly. Please visit, connect with us and follow us – we would love to add you to our network!

Find out more about the diseases

Are you interested in knowing more about the diseases that are the focus of the RELENT project? On our website you can find links to excellent on-line resources with a wealth of accurate and up to date information, specifically written for patients and the general public. They describe what is known about the causes of the diseases, how they are diagnosed and treated. You will also find the answers to many frequently asked questions and many other resources to support patients and their families.

Upcoming meetings and events

The 5th RELENT General Assembly Meeting will take place in Nice/Grasse, France in September 2019.

The 6th RELENT General Assembly Meeting will take place in Vienna, Austria in January 2020.

The 19th International ANCA and Vasculitis workshop will be held in Philadelphia, USA April 7-10, 2019

RELENT has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 668036. The views expressed here are the responsibility of the authors only. The EU Commission takes no responsibility for any use made of the information set out. Copyright | Imprint

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