Vall d'Hebron hosts a meeting of the EXIMIOUS project to study the effect on health of exposure to environmental factors

EXIMIOUS is a project funded by the Horizon 2020 program that aims to study the exposome to understand its relationship with immune-mediated diseases.


Today, May 23, Vall d'Hebron hosted the annual meeting of researchers working on EXIMIOUS (Mapping Exposure-Induced Immune Effects: Connecting the Exposome and the Immunome), a project funded by the European Union that involves 15 organizations from 7 European countries. EXIMIOUS aims to study the exposome, i.e. exposure to environmental factors throughout life, in order to understand its relationship with immune-mediated diseases, such as autoimmune diseases or allergies.

Exposure to different factors, related to lifestyle, occupation, stress, pollution... can have an impact on health. The precise relationship with the development of certain diseases is still unknown. "EXIMIOUS aims to combine innovative methods to characterize exposure to environmental factors and analyze the effects it causes on the immune system", explains Dr. María Jesús Cruz, head of the Pneumology group at Vall d'Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) who participates in the project together with Dr. Xavier Muñoz and predoctoral researchers David Soler and David Espejo. To do this, biological samples will be collected to analyze different markers and compare them with the places where people live and work and see if this is related to pathologies they may suffer throughout their lives.

The five-year project, starting in 2020, is funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 program. Through new bioinformatics tools or the use of artificial intelligence, the databases of the exposome and the factors that influence the immune system and the development of certain diseases will be analyzed. Thus, it is expected to know which factors entail a higher risk of suffering some of these pathologies in order to implement preventive actions.

Vall d'Hebron is the only center in Spain participating in the project and its role lies in the recruitment of patients with hypersensitivity pneumonitis, a pathology caused by inhaling organic substances in the environment that can cause lung fibrosis. This is a rare disease for which Vall d'Hebron is a state reference center.

At the meeting held today, the progress made so far and the next steps to be taken were shared. The project is currently in an intermediate phase in which environmental measurements are being taken and patients and workers exposed to different substances are being recruited to study their effects.

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