Intersection of viruses and allergic disease
Allergic diseases such as allergic asthma, allergic rhinitis and atopic eczema have a lifetime prevalence of 30-40%. Starting early in childhood, both genetic and environmental factors are involved in development and progression of these diseases. Respiratory virus infections, such as the common cold, are associated with the development of allergic diseases and known triggers of allergic airway exacerbations. However, despite this strong link between viruses and allergic diseases, we still have a limited understanding of how these diseases influence each other. Our lab is broadly interested in how respiratory virus infections influence the development of allergic diseases and conversely how allergic inflammation alters our normal immune responses during virus infections.
Individuals with atopy – or allergic sensitization – have decreased antiviral immune responses to virus infections. IgE, the antibody associated with allergy and atopy, has been shown to be involved in this process by influencing immune cell functions. We are interested in identifying how IgE-mediated signals influence responses of immune cells to viruses, such as Rhinovirus, the main cause of the common cold. By comparing the functions and antiviral responses of immune cells from individuals with high and low IgE levels, we hope to identify specific pathways and cellular functions regulated by IgE. This research will provide a better understanding of how allergic diseases develop and progress and could potentially discover new targets for improved treatments and even prevention.