The human immune system – our protection against pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, etc. – is divided into two type of responses; innate and adaptive. The innate immune response acts as the first defense towards pathogens, through physical barriers such as the skin and through clearance of infectious agents, e.g. via recognition of conserved pathogenic compounds. The adaptive immune response complements the innate responses via pathogen-specific reactions, and is developed during the entire life of a human. The immunological memory is an essential component of the adaptive immune response, which enables quick and efficient immunological reaction upon recurrent infections. Sometimes adaptive immune responses and immunological memory are developed against harmless substances, or self-molecules, consequently leading to diseases rather than preventing them. One such disease is type 1 hypersensitivity, or allergic disease, where the adaptive immune system reacts on un-harmful substances from e.g. pollen, food, or animals. A main player causing allergic disease is antibodies, or immunoglobulins (Ig), of IgE isotype that bind specifically to the allergy causing substance. Production of these antibodies is initiated upon the first encounter of the substance and upon repeated encounter, IgE antibodies bound to the surfaces of immune effector cells are crosslinked, causing the release of mediators and, subsequently, allergic symptoms. Allergic disease affects 30% of the population in many European countries and could be expected to increase further, as the prevalence among younger individuals is even higher. In addition to compromising the life quality of affected people, the disease is associated with high costs for the society. Today, specific immunotherapy (SIT) acts as a disease-alternating alternative to other, symptomatic, drugs, but can be associated with side-effects, and the mechanism behind the treatment is not yet fully understood.
In this project, we study the antibody repertoires in subjects suffering from allergic disease aiming to increase knowledge about allergy associated antibodies and their interactions with allergens, thus paving the way for development of more sufficient allergy treatments. The project mainly focus on analysis of antibody transcript data from allergic individuals, generated either using bulk sequencing or single cell sequencing technology, but also amino acid sequencing data generated using mass spectrometry technology. Finally, analysis of the germline gene inference process required for antibody repertoire analysis may also be performed within the scope of this project.