The project aims to improve the diagnostic tools for food allergy and the methods of detection of allergens in foods and, most importantly, to investigate a vaccine for food allergy.
The current diagnostic tools include skin tests in which food extracts are applied to the skin. These methods are not considered optimally specific or sensitive, because they involve application of unstandardized extracts. Recombinant allergens, generated primarily for inclusion in the vaccine, may offer a specific and safe addition to the diagnostic tools.
Current diagnostic immunological methods for the detection of allergens in foods are based on antibodies developed against crude food extracts. The use of highly purified recombinant allergens for the production of antis era may improve the specificities and sensitivites of analytical methods. This will help clinicians in the investigation of safe threshold levels of food allergens, and food manufacturers who aim to inform realistically about product cross-contamination o n the label.
At present, no vaccine for food allergy is available. We will combine knowledge on the novel specific immuno-therapy for the treatment of respiratory allergic diseases and the vaccibody structure developed by Prof. Bjarne Bogen and collegues for cancer treatment, to investigate the use of a novel type vaccine in food allergy. This vaccine will consist of an antigen specific site that contains recombinant allergen, and a targeting unit that is associated with induction of immunological toleran ce. These parts are linked through a flexible dimerization motif.
The project is a close collaboration between the NVI (recombinant allergen and analytical methods), scientists at Bogens group at the UiO, Vaccibody AS (targeting unit, in vitro tests), I nstituto Superiore di Sanita (in vivo tests) and clinicians at Haukeland and Voksentoppen university hospitals (skin tests).