Goals of the SFB
Major research topics
Meetings & Seminars
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Division of Immunopathology
Department of Pathophysiology and Allergy Research
Center of Pathophysiology, Infectiology & Immunology

Medical University of Vienna

Vienna General Hospital, AKH, 3Q
Waehringer Guertel 18-20
A-1090 Vienna, Austria

Goals of the SFB

One goal of this SFB proposal is to establish as complete as possible panels of recombinant allergens and to characterize the molecular, immunological and structural properties of these molecules. A second important topic is to study at a molecular and cellular level allergen-encounter, uptake, processing and allergen-specific immune responses. These events will primarily be studied in allergic patients (infants, adults) and directly in the target organs of atopy (respiratory tract, skin, gastrointestinal tract). A third objective of this SFB will be the development of recombinant allergen-based forms of component-resolved diagnosis (e. g., micro array-based chip technology) and their clinical use to study the evolution and development of the allergic immune response in infants and adults, during natural allergen exposure and current treatment forms. The fourth aspect is to develop, on the basis of structural and immunological allergen characterization, genetically engineered and synthetic allergen derivatives for specific immunotherapy. This aspect also includes the development of new adjuvants, vaccination and tolerance induction protocols. The strong participation of clinical researchers should facilitate the clinical evaluation of novel diagnostic and treatment strategies and thus allow the translation of promising concepts developed in the course of the SFB to bedside application.    Topic 1: Molecular, structural and immunological characterization of allergens
Topic 1 is centered around the characterization of clinically relevant allergens and aims to obtain as complete as possible panels of the disease-eliciting allergens of important allergen sources, to study their structure, biological function, to understand their recognition by the immune system and in the end, to develop diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.
Topic 2: Allergen-encounter, uptake, processing, maintenance and modulation of the allergic immune response In topic 2 the recognition of clinically relevant allergens by the immune system is studied using in vitro, ex vivo approaches, experimental animal models and research in patients. The understanding of the immune recognition of allergens should contribute to the development of antigen-specific and other targeted therapies.
Topic 3: Component-resolved allergy diagnosis Allergen molecules and epitopes characterized in topic 1 should form the basis of component-resolved diagnostics which should allow to study the allergic immune response in patients in greater detail than can be achieved with crude allergen extracts and represent the basis for a more accurate prescription of therapies.
Topic 4: Genetic engineering of hypoallergenic allergen derivatives, evaluation of new adjuvants, vaccination and tolerance induction protocols A major focus of the SFB program is to develop hypoallergenic allergen derivatives which are suitable for both, vaccination and tolerance induction strategies. For this purpose, allergen-derivatives with reduced IgE-reactivity but preserved T cell epitopes are engineered. These derivatives and different routes of administration as well as adjuvants are tested in experimental animal models regarding their preventive and therapeutic activities. Safety and effects in patients are studied by clinical groups by provocation testing directly in allergic patients.
Topic 5: Clinical evaluation of novel treatment strategies Both, the monitoring of immunological effects and mechanisms in patients in the course of immunotherapy and pharmacological intervention as well as the initiation of pilot studies with new allergen derivatives and treatment regimens will be pursued in topic 5. The specific feature of this research program that it is based on the long experience the characterization of clinically relevant allergens and that it links this experience with mechanistic studies and clinical research in patients. Similar efforts are ongoing in different laboratories in the world and there are also national research programs (e.g., immune tolerance network: USA) and also worldwide efforts (e.g., projects in the European FP7) to work from the characterization of allergens towards diagnostic and therapeutic concepts. Also several companies in the field of diagnosis and therapy use recombinant allergens to develop new diagnostic and therapeutic concepts. The members of this SFB are in close interaction with researchers involved in similar programs in order to synergize these research efforts.