Research at the Division of Medical Biotechnology
Areas of research
The research activities of the Division of Medical Biotechnology aim at
bridging the gap between basic science and application-centred development
of better diagnostic and therapeutic concepts in allergology and tumour immunology.
For more details, view the pages of the individual research groups:
Our main areas of research are:
- Interaction of allergens with the innate immune system
- The first step in the allergic sensitization is the uptake of allergens by
professional antigen-presenting cells, such as dendritic cells (DC). Activated DC
then induce the differentiation of naïve CD4+ T cells into TH2
cells. The generation of a TH2 inducing signal also involves other cells such as
epithelial cells, innate lymphoid cells and innate-like lymphocytes. We investigate various
aspects of this process using cells from allergic and non-allergic donors as well as cell
lines. One goal is the elucidation of the role of allergens and non-allergenic
immunomodulatory compounds, such as lipids, in allergic sensitization.
- Identification, characterisation and clinical application of food allergens
- Our division has a long-standing experience in identification and biochemical
characterisation of allergens and their production as recombinant proteins in various
expression systems such as bacteria, yeast, insect cells and plants. We aim at using these
allergens for various applications such as producing recombinant allergen-specific
antibodies for detection of allergens, pure standardized allergen preparations for
diagnostic applications and hypoallergenic derivatives for allergen-specific
- Characterization of the allergen-specific antibody response
- Besides immunoglobulin E (IgE), allergic patients also produce allergen specific
antibodies of other isotypes such as IgG and IgA. We investigate the epitope repertoires
of allergen-specific antibodies using various approaches such as allergen-specific
recombinant monoclonal antibodies, peptide mapping and chimeric proteins. Our goal is
to elucidate the clinical relevance of these epitope recognition profiles in terms of
cross-reactivity between different foods, clinical consequences of pollen-food
cross-reactivity and efficacy of allergen-specific immunotherapy.
- Evolutionary biology and classification of allergens
- We have previously shown that most allergens belong to a surprisingly small number of
protein families. We established the AllFam database of allergen
families to provide the scientific community and clinicians with a tool to obtain a
quick overview on important allergen families and their member allergens. Ongoing projects
in bioinformatics tackle the question "What make a protein an allergen?" We hope to shed
light on this question by comparing allergen sequences and structures with those of
Currently, research in the Division of Medical Biotechnology is funded by the following projects:
- Special research programme Towards Prevention and Therapy of Allergy
- This programme is funded by the Austrian Science Fund
and comprises a multidisciplinary group of scientists from the Department of Pathophysiology
and Allergy Research and other departments. The aim of this long-term project is to use
clinically important allergens to develop new forms of prevention and treatment which
target allergic diseases using various approaches. One of the major long term goals is the
development of allergen-specific prevention strategies for allergic diseases.
- PhD programme Molecular, Cellular and Clinical Allergology
- This programme is jointly organized by the Medical University of Vienna and the
Veterinary University of Vienna and funded by the Austrian Science Fund. It aims to to select, educate and promote the
best possible PhD students in the field of allergy research and to strengthen long-term
perspectives of allergy research in Austria but also abroad and to develop innovative
strategies for diagnosis, therapy and prevention of allergic diseases.
- Epitope recognition patterns of Bet v 1-specific IgE
- This project, granted to Christian Radauer, is funded by the
Austrian Science Fund (FWF). Its objective is to
elucidate the clinical relevance of patient-specific IgE epitope repertoires in the
birch pollen-plat food syndrome. For more information, see
Christian Radauer - Research.
- Marker allergens for the diagnosis of nut allergies in peanut allergic patients
- The project was granted to Merima Bublin and is funded by the
Anniversary Fund of the Austrian National Bank.
Its aim is the identifiation and characterization of cross-reactive allergens from tree
nuts with the aim of improving component resolved diagnosis of peanut and tree nut
allergies and predicting clinical cross-reactivities in nut allergic patients.