Mechanisms

Food allergy results from an abnormal immune response to food and this allergic reaction can sometimes cause serious illness and death. To date, there is no cure or therapy for food allergies and there are no models to predict the allergenic risk of novel foods.

Research objective:

  1. To elucidate the immunological mechanisms underlying food allergy
  2. To develop strategies for therapies of food allergy.

Tools:

For this purpose, UCFA partners developed both in vivo and in vitro techniques and models:

Animal model for food allergy:
Animal models for peanut and cow’s milk allergy have been developed. These models provide tools to study the mechanism of allergic sensitization, and also of the allergic effector response. Furthermore, the models provide tools to investigate the potential of immunomodulatory or other therapeutic strategies.

In vitro co-culture model:
In vitro, a co-culture model of the intestinal mucosa (human) and individual epithelial cell or mast cell cultures (mouse, rat, human) are being used to elucidate the role of individual cells or interactions between cell types in immune responses.

Human in vitro assays:
Mechanisms of allergy and tolerance in humans are investigated at the T cell and IgE level. Long-term and short-term T cell culture-systems have been set-up to measure allergen-specific T cell responses towards cow’s milk, peanut and other allergens. Furthermore, B cell responses at the level of immunoglobulin subtypes (IgE, IgG1, IgG4) are studied.