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New tools for allergen-specific immunotherapy: mechanisms for regulation of the allergic immune response
At the department of Medicine, Clin. Immunology and Allergy unit, KI, we study regulatory mechanisms controlling the immune response to allergens. The aim is to learn how to activate the regulatory mechanisms, which normally control and suppress the allergic immune response towards allergens. In one project we will investigate two important cell types that control the immune response: dendritic cells (DC), wich is the most potent APC, and regulatory T-cells (Treg). For this purpose, blood cells from allergic patients and healthy controls will be collected after allergen exposure or without allergen exposure. The specific mechanisms for how DCs and Tregs control the immune response to allergens will then be investigated. In a second project we will evaluate a novel allergen carrier and adjuvant for allergen-specific immunotherapy (SIT), carbohydrate-based particles (CBP). A major cat allergen coupled to CBPs will be assessed in a human system for their effect on DCs and T-cell responses. Finally, at the present we are establishing a mouse model for cat allergy where we can test the therapeutic potency of allergen-coupled CBPs. This allergy model will also be used to test other new approaches to manipulate an allergic immune response in SIT.
Many methods will be employed in the projects described above. Cell fractioning and culture, cell analyses by flow cytometry, cell proliferation assays, cytokine production (e.g. ELISA, CBA, ELSISpot and QT-PCR), recombinant protein production and analyses are some examples of methods that are currently used in our laboratory.
Allergy to common inhalant allergens is an increasing problem in our society and almost one third of the population is affected. Therefore we need curative therapies to treat allergic diseases. The overall aim of this project is to learn how we can target allergens to be presented to the immune system in a ¿non-allergic¿ fashion in order to generate new tools for immunotherapy of allergic disease.
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