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Impact of IL-20 Cytokines on Eosinophilic Esophagitis: Falk Innovation Awardee 2023 Jan Niess

award ceremony

f.l.t.r.: Teo Albarano, Hassan Melhem, Tanay Kaymak, Jan Niess, Susanne Höppner, Mao Chen, Sara Dylgjeri

The Falk Innovation Award, sponsored by Dr. Falk Pharma AG, recognizes advancements in medical research within gastroenterology and hepatology. This year, Jan Niess of the Department of Biomedicine was honored with CHF 10,000 for his recent publication from his lab on the impact of IL-20 cytokines on eosinophilic esophagitis.

The article, originally published earlier this year in Gut, was selected from among 12 submitted publications by a scientific committee of experts in the fields of gastroenterology and hepatology in Switzerland. In their study, Tanay Kaymak and colleagues investigated chronic inflammation in eosinophilic esophagitis using multi-omics approaches and functional analyses. They discovered that active eosinophilic esophagitis is associated with an increased expression of members of the IL-20 subfamily of cytokines, that downregulates the expression of genes involved in esophageal barrier integrity. Genetic ablation of cytokine signaling attenuates experimental eosinophilic esophagitis, which was replicated by inhibiting STAT3 signaling. As the IL-20 subfamily-mediated epithelial barrier impairment is ERK-dependent, the authors demonstrated further that pharmacologic inhibition of ERK can rescue epithelial barrier impairment. These novel findings suggest that specific targeting of the IL-20 subfamily signaling pathway may offer a novel strategy for treating eosinophilic esophagitis. 

The DBM congratulates the Niess lab on this achievement.