ERC Advanced Grant - Host-environment interactions in the protection from asthma and allergies (HERA)
- Sprecherin: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Erika von Mutius
- Einrichtung: Kinderklinik und Kinderpoliklinik im Dr. von Hauner'schen Kinderspital
- Förderung: 2010 bis 2015
Asthma and allergies are complex diseases which are caused by genetic and environmental factors. Available therapies only control symptoms, and cannot cure or prevent these conditions. Earlier work by Prof. Erika von Mutius and her team showed that children who grow up on farms, where they are exposed to a wide variety of microbes, are less likely to develop asthma and allergies. This prompted the researchers to compare the effects of growing up on different types of farms and in non-farming communities on the immune systems of children. These studies have now progressed to the point where a systematic attempt can be made to identify the protective microbes and their immunostimulatory components. This is what the project HERA (“Host-environment interactions in protection from asthma and allergies”) is intended to achieve. In the first step, the plan is to characterize the microbial ecology of samples that have already been collected. Newly developed methods will then be used to dissect how components of these pathogens stimulate the human immune system. The hope is to identify those microbes whose presence protects against asthma and allergies, and to clarify how this depends on the genetic constitution of the individual human host. The longer-term goal is to isolate the active compounds from these pathogens, and use them as starting points for the synthesis of novel and effective agents which prevent the development of asthma and allergy.