AITHM James Cook University

NavigationNavigation

Back to listings

On Twitter

Latest tweets

Download Our
Annual Report

Over 40% of the world population has some type of allergic sensitivity

Up to 8% of adults and 4% of children worldwide have food allergies

Allergic sensitisation is generated through immune responses to specific proteins

Our research develops hypoallergenic proteins for the treatment of food allergies

Opportunity for partnership

The Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM) is seeking to partner with biopharmaceutical companies to develop hypoallergenic proteins for the treatment of allergic diseases to food allergens.

The goal is to develop hypoallergenic proteins via recombinant technologies to down-regulate the immune response to the natural allergenic protein, by up-regulating the IgG4 response to the target antigen.

This will enable us to utilise our detailed knowledge of molecular immune responses to purified and recombinant allergens in children and adults, and generate safe and effective therapeutics for these often life long diseases.

Scientific team

Andreas Lopata, PhD
A/Prof and Co-Director, Centre for Biodiscovery & Molecular Development of Therapeutics, AITHM, JCU, Townsville

Sandip Kamath, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Centre for Biodiscovery & Molecular Development of Therapeutics, AITHM, JCU, Townsville

Dianne, Campbell, MD/PhD
Chair of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at Children’s Hospital Westmead, Sydney and Head of the Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney

The project

Food allergy incidence is on the rise, with an estimated 500 million individuals affected worldwide.

Scientists have proposed a number of reasons as to why this is, including reduced exposure to intestinal infections, the increased prevalence of high-fat diets and even rising levels of formula-milk feeding during infancy.

Among other genetic and environmental factors, it is thought that these trends may contribute to a loss of oral tolerance, resulting in allergic sensitisation to specific allergenic proteins.

It has been shown by our research group, and others, that these allergenic proteins can be modified and generated as recombinant proteins (hypoallergens) using bio-molecular and immunological approaches, for the treatment of allergies.

We have already identified a range of allergenic molecules in fish and shellfish, and characterised their immunomodulatory properties.

We are now working towards developing hypo-allergenic variants of these proteins for pre-clinical trials.

“There are no currently approved medical therapies to cure food allergies or prevent their effects.”

The technology

Our technology comprises the identification, isolation and molecular- immunological characterisation of the allergy causing molecules.

Recombinant forms of these molecules are generated, which are not detected by the allergic patients, and characterised using in-vitro, in-vivo and mouse models.

Applications - market size

Food allergies are a significant and growing health problem in the United States, Europe and throughout the world with over 35% of the population having some type of allergy.

It is estimated that more than 30 million people in the United States and Europe have a food allergy, and over 20 million people worldwide have allergies to fish and/or shellfish, including children and adults.

There are no currently approved medical therapies to cure food allergies or prevent their effects.

Currently, food-allergic patients manage their condition by strict allergen avoidance and carrying epinephrine auto-injectors for use in case of accidental exposure. Thus, in addition to the unmet medical need, food allergies can impose significant on quality of life burden.

Figure 1. An overview of the developmental stages of novel immunotherapeutic approaches for food allergy