Current research focus and outlook
Focus on five major topics:
- pectic allergens in pollen and food
- ragweed pollen allergy
- house dust mite allergy
- shrimp allergy
- protein characterization
In addition, active in public engagement with science, which to be effective requires extensive collaborative efforts and multidirectional communication involving different stakeholders (journalists, policy-makers, scientists, citizens, etc).
1) Pectic allergens in pollen and food
- Identification of new allergens: Ongoing project supported by OAD (WTZ project IN 07/2018) for identification and characterization of a new pectate lyase allergen in feverfew pollen. The project is in cooperation with University of Delhi, India.
- Detailed characterization of natural pectic enzymes: 10 different natural allergenic pectic enzymes have been purified from respective pollen source. In a detailed activity study, enzymatic properties of each single allergen will be investigated, which is essential for classification of allergens in enzyme/protein families according to their biological function.
- Production and detailed immunological characterization of recombinant pectate lyase allergens: We have developed a new expression and purification approach that allows the recombinant production of pectate lyases derived from pollen sources. These proteins will be investigated in detail regarding their immunological properties in vitro as well as in vivo.
- Preclinical evaluation of new pollen extract therapeutics: in cooperation with HAL Allergy ragweed pollen extracts are tested for suitability as new vaccine candidates for ragweed allergy treatment.
- Pectic allergens and their role in the oral allergy syndrome: several pectic IgE reactive molecules have been identified in different food sources that will be further isolated and analysed in terms of IgE reactivity and their cross-reactive role in the oral allergy syndrome.
- Recombinant production and characterization of polygalacturonase allergens: Several allergens are identified from the polygalacturonase family of proteins, however, none of them is available as recombinant proteins. This project aims to establish the recombinant production as well as detailed immunological characterization of allergenic polygalacturonases.
2) Ragweed pollen allergy
- Immunological evaluation of Amb a 11: ragweed allergen Amb a 11 was described as second major allergen of ragweed in the past. Detailed immunological analyse will investigate the exact role of Amb a 11 in ragweed allergy.
- Characterization of a new ragweed allergen Amb a 12: in cooperation with the Helmholtz Institute in Munich, a newly identified allergen from ragweed is being physico-chemically and immunologically characterized in detail.
3) Mite allergy
- homologous allergens from European house dust mite and tropical mite are investigated upon their cross-reactive properties in mite allergic patients in different cohorts Detailed in vitro and in vivo studies, also including hypoallergenic variants, are ongoing. This project is in cooperation with University of Bahia, Brazil and Thomas Cook University, Australia.
4) Shrimp allergy
- shrimp extract testing: characterization of different shrimp extracts in terms of protein/allergen content and IgE binding properties. In cooperation with Thomas Cook University, Australia
5) Protein characterization
- detailed physico-chemical characterization of proteins (secondary structure elements, aggregation, oligomerization, intact mass, etc.)
- as service for academic cooperation partners
- in cooperation with industrial partners, e.g. HAL Allergy, Biomay AG
- within a current project: EDQM (European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines and Healthcare)
Science to Public:
in cooperation with DNA Consult, Reinhard Nestelbacher
- Sparkling Science project
- Flying lab school courses