Our body is constantly attacked by bacteria and viruses. But luckily our immune system is equipped to recognize and destroy these intruders so we don’t get sick. But did you know our immune system can also attack our own body?

Apparently a kind of flags are placed on our cells and proteins, which makes our immune system think they are foreign and makes it attacks our own body. We call this an auto-immune disease. And it happens more often than you think. About five to ten percent of the western population has an auto-immune disease, and yet we don’t understand how this disease arises and how these flags are placed.

In my research I want to understand the enzymes that place the flags. To do this, we use chemistry to manipulate the enzymes and study the effects on the immune system. If we better understand how these flags are placed and how they are recognized by our immune system recognizes them, we will someday be able to make better medicine to treat these auto-immune diseases.

Radboud University Nijmegen

Our immune system is capable of recognizing intruders and destroying them so we don’t get sick. But sometimes our immune system also attacks our own body. We call this an auto-immune disease. This is caused by enzymes that place a kind of flags on our own cells and proteins, which makes the immune system recognize them as an intruder. Kim Bonger looks into how these enzymes place the flags and hopes that with this knowledge we can treat auto-immune diseases better in the future.

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