Adenosine in ambrosia pollen exacerbates allergy

The common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) produces pollen which can trigger strong reactions such as asthma. A research team headed by Prof. Claudia Traidl-Hoffmann, who is on the Board of Directors of CK-CARE (Christine Kühne – Center for Allergy Research and Education), has shown that what was previously known as the principal allergen only has such a strong allergenic effect when combined with the substance adenosine, which is also present in the pollen.

The weed Ambrosia artemisiifolia is an invasive plant from North America, which has two challenging characteristics for humans: it is spreading rapidly in Europe – it is also colonising regions in Switzerland – and its pollen has an allergy-promoting effect even in minute quantities. If ambrosia pollen gets into the airways, it induces severe inflammation in the lung tissue. This can produce breathing problems or even asthma. The main trigger in ambrosia pollen was previously thought to be a protein called “Amb a 1”. A lot of people who have come into contact with ambrosia pollen develop antibodies to this substance. This is basically a protective mechanism of the body against unwanted substances or pathogens, but it is initiated in error when a person has an allergy.
However, the protein Amb a 1 is apparently not solely responsible for the inflammatory effect of the ambrosia pollen, as shown by a team led by Prof. Claudia Traidl-Hoffmann, Director of the Institute of Environmental Medicine at the Technical University of Munich (UNIKA-T, TUM) and member of the Board of Directors of CK-CARE (Christine Kühne – Center for Allergy Research and Education): “This only becomes highly allergenic when in combination with adenosine, which is also contained in ambrosia pollen,” states Prof. Claudia Traidl-Hoffman.

The search for the unknown substance
According to the media release from TUM, the researchers studied how different constituents of the pollen acted on lung tissue. The lung tissue was then tested for indicators of inflammation – such as the presence of specific immune cells. The whole pollen extract or the protein Amb a 1 was tested, while at the same time the pollen extract without proteins was also tested. The results were surprising and revealing, as Prof. Traidl-Hoffmann outlines: “Only the whole extract triggered an allergic effect, making it clear that another substance must be causing the allergenic action of the pollen as well as the protein Amb a 1.”
Adenosine was considered as an interesting candidate for substance X. The researchers had already detected it in high concentrations in birch pollen and it is also present in large quantities in ambrosia pollen. They hit the bull’s eye with this theory: once adenosine had been removed from the whole pollen extract, only very slight signs of inflammation occurred. Similarly, if adenosine was administered alone, no pronounced allergic reaction was observed in the lungs. This means: “Only the combination of substances causes an allergic reaction,” concludes Prof. Claudia Traidl-Hoffman.

Will we soon have a possible remedy for allergic asthma?
An interesting aspect is that adenosine is found naturally in the human body. It is involved in lots of processes and nearly all cells carry recognition molecules for adenosine on their surface. So how does adenosine actually intensify an allergic reaction? “Pollen adenosine binds to the endogenous receptors and, in combination with other substances, can trigger allergies”, explains Prof. Claudia Traidl-Hoffman. The research group calls this phenomenon “cross-kingdom signalling”, in which plant messengers bind to human receptors.
The results of the study are also promising with regard to treatment. So-called adenosine receptor antagonists are drugs that can help to treat asthma by blocking the adenosine receptors in the body. Therefore this aspect is also important in terms of research into pollen allergy. “The results show that adenosine plays a key role, especially in the exacerbation of an allergic reaction. This means the inflammatory reaction could be inhibited by blocking the adenosine receptors, where possible”, states the doctor and researcher.

Publication:
M. Wimmer, F. Alessandrini, S. Gilles, U. Frank, S. Oeder, M. Hauser, J. Ring, F. Ferreira, D. Ernst, J. B. Winkler, P. Schmitt-Kopplin, C. Ohnmacht, H. Behrendt, C. Schmidt-Weber, C. Traidl-Hoffmann, J. Gutermuth, Pollen-derived adenosine is a necessary cofactor for ragweed allergy, Allergy, May 2015.
DOI: 10.1111/all.12642

Certification by the Swiss Biobanking Platform – OPTIMA-Label

Davos BioSciences AG achieved the official OPTIMA label of the Swiss Biobanking Platform for its biobank infrastructure as of 30.05.2022. This is another important step for Davos BioSciences AG and CK-CARE. The label attests to the full implementation of a QM system. The OPTIMA-Label confirms: “Compliance with the Good Biobanking Practices; in particular OECD Best practice guidelines for biological resource centres (2007), ISBER Best practices (2018) and IARC Common minimum technical standards (2017). It follows established standards, including the ISO 20387:2018 – general requirements for biobanking. This certification approach is part of our long-term strategy to provide high-quality samples to the research community”.

Certification by the Swiss Biobanking Platform

After some effort, Davos BioSciences AG achieved the official NORMA label of the Swiss Biobanking Platform for its biobank infrastructure as of 17.08.2021. This is an important step for Davos BioSciences AG and CK-CARE. The NORMA-Label confirms: “Compliance with professional standards is essential to perform our daily biobanking activities according to Good Biobanking Practices; in particular OECD Best practice guidelines for biological resource centres (2007), ISBER Best practices (2018) and IARC Common minimum technical standards (2017). It follows established standards, including the ISO 20387:2018 – general requirements for biobanking. This certification approach is part of our long-term strategy to provide high-quality samples to the research community”. Certificate of the Swiss Biobanking Plattform

Claudio Rhyner, PhD appointed as the new Managing Director

On 1 October 2020, Claudio Rhyner succeeded Dr. Georg Schäppi as Managing Director of CK-CARE. Georg Schäppi was appointed CEO at the University Children’s Hospital Zurich as of 1 December, 2020.

Claudio Rhyner was born and grew up in Davos. After studying chemistry and molecular biology, he graduated specialising in asthma and allergy research. He was active in fundamental scientific research, including as head of the research “Vaccine Development” group at the SIAF (Swiss Institute of Allergy and Asthma Research). In this capacity he published numerous publications and filed several patents. After holding a leading position in a SME in molecular diagnostics, he became CEO of Biosciences Davos. Biosciences Davos is a spin-off organisation of CK-CARE in the field of biobanking and is part of the Medizincampus Davos. He continues to hold this position.

In his private life, Claudio Rhyner is actively engaged in politics and culture in the Davos community. He also completed a postgraduate degree in the field of management of small and medium-sized companies at the University St. Gallen.

Atopic dermatitis: an expanding therapeutic pipeline for a complex disease

Our founder, Prof. Thomas Bieber, published an important contribution in the treatment of AD:

Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a common chronic inflammatory skin disease with a complex pathophysiology that underlies a wide spectrum of clinical phenotypes. AD remains challenging to treat owing to the limited response to available therapies. However, recent advances in understanding of disease mechanisms have led to the discovery of novel potential therapeutic targets and drug candidates

In addition to regulatory approval for the IL-4Ra inhibitor dupilumab, the anti-IL-13 inhibitor tralokinumab and the JAK1/2 inhibitor baricitinib in Europe, there are now more than 70 new compounds in development. This Review assesses the various strategies and novel agents currently being investigated for AD and highlights the potential for a precision medicine approach to enable prevention and more effective long-term control of this complex disease.

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Kühne-Foundation Annual Report 2020

“Key priority of the Kühne Foundation is the support for training, further education as well as research and science in the area of logistics. This also includes Humanitarian Logistics and a project concentrating on free global trade.
Another focal point is our medicine funding through research, therapy, and education in the fields of allergology and cardiology. In Davos, Switzerland, we operate the Hochgebirgsklinik, a renowed rehabilitation hospital owned by us, and various research institutions. In the cultural sector, we support leading opera houses and concert halls and belong to the main sponsors of the Salzburg Festival and Lucerne Festival.”

Prof. Dr. h.c. Klaus-Michael Kühne