Continuing Medical Education Activities for Improved Management of Allergy

Effectiveness and sustainability of continuing medical education activities are, in general, a huge challenge. Given the frequency of allergic diseases, the increasing prevalence, the burden of the disease, the degree of suffering and the age of onset, there is a need for paediatricians to have in-depth knowledge and skills in allergology. We developed a needs-based course for Swiss paediatricians in primary care, where the relevant competencies are acquired in modular, multi-method learning activities.

The teaching is focused on filling gaps and aims at a behavioural change. To facilitate this change and the transfer of acquired competence into daily practice, a commitment-to-change (CTC) strategy was introduced. Paediatricians found four key elements decisive to change their clinical practice: problem-oriented, reflective, situated learning and convenience in learning/applying. Allergy education should help physicians to improve their knowledge, skills and attitudes in order to better perform and provide improved care to their allergy patients.

For more details please refer to the “Letter to the Editor” published by D. Straub Piccirillo, P. Schmid-Grendelmeier, M. Hitzler, R. Lauener in Allergy. 2018 Jun;73(6):1351-1353. doi: 10.1111/all.13443. Epub 2018 Apr 17.

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

Covid-19 risk increases with airborne pollen

When airborne pollen levels are higher, increased SARS-CoV-2 infection rates can be observed. These results were determined by a large-scale study conducted by an international team headed by researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Helmholtz Zentrum München. Members of high-risk groups could protect themselves by watching pollen forecasts and wearing dust filter masks.

In the spring of 2020, the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic appeared to coincide with the tree pollen season in the northern hemisphere. These observations prompted an international team of researchers to conduct an extensive investigation: The scientists wanted to know whether there is a demonstrable link between airborne pollen concentrations and SARS-CoV-2 infection rates.

Pollen is a significant environmental factor influencing infection rates
Based on CK-CARE research and under the leadership of first author Athanasios Damialis, the team at the Chair of Environmental Medicine at TUM collected data on airborne pollen concentrations, weather conditions and SARS-CoV-2 infections – taking into consideration the variation of infection rates from one day to another and the total number of positive tests. In their calculations, the team also included data on population density and the effects of lockdown measures. The 154 researchers analyzed pollen data from 130 stations in 31 countries on five continents.

„Wearing a particle filtering mask when pollen concentrations are high can keep both the virus and pollen out of the airways.”— Prof. Claudia Traidl-Hoffmann

The team showed that airborne pollen can account for, on average, 44 percent of the variation in infection rates, with humidity and air temperature also playing a role in some cases. During intervals without lockdown regulations, infection rates were on average 4 percent higher with every increase of 100 grains of airborne pollen per cubic meter. In some German cities, concentrations of up to 500 pollen grains per cubic meter per day were recorded during the study – which led to an overall increase in infection rates of more than 20 percent. In regions where lockdown rules were in effect, however, the infection numbers were on average only half as high at comparable pollen concentrations.

Exposure to farm animals protects farm children from asthma

(Natural News) Asthma is a common disease among most children, with the exception being farm children. Immunologists from the University of Zurich have pinpointed the cause: exposure to farm animals. Specifically, the researchers have identified a sialic acid in farm animals that has proven to be effective against lung tissue inflammation.

The sialic acid is N-Glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc), a substance that is prevalent in the majority of vertebrates but absent in humans. According to the researchers, humans are unable to produce this non-microbial substance naturally, yet are fully capable of absorbing it from animals through either touch or by consuming food products made from animals.

Quelle: UZH Zürich

Estimating the abundance of airborne pollen and fungal spores at various elevations using an aircraft: How high can they fly?

Airborne pollen and fungal spores are monitored mainly in highly populated, urban environments, for allergy prevention purposes. However, their sources can frequently be located outside cities’ fringes with more vegetation.

In order to shed light on this paradox, we investigated the diversity and abundance of airborne pollen and fungal spores for various environmental regimes. We monitored pollen and spores using an aircraft and a car, at elevations from sea level to 2,000 m above ground, in the region of Thesssaloniki, Greece. We found a total of 24 pollen types and more than 15 spore types. Pollen and spores were detected throughout the various elevations. Lower elevations exhibited higher pollen concentrations in only half of plant taxa and higher fungal spore concentrations in only Ustilago. Pinaceae and Quercus pollen were the most abundant recorded by aircraft (>54% of the total). Poaceae pollen were the most abundant via car measurements (>77% of the total). Cladosporium and Alternaria spores were the most abundant in all cases (aircraft: >69% and >17%, car: >45% and >27%, respectively). We conclude that pollen and fungal spores can be diverse and abundant even outside the main source area, evidently because of long-distance migration incidents.

Author information: Damialis A1,2,3, Kaimakamis E4, Konoglou M4, Akritidis I5, Traidl-Hoffmann C1,2, Gioulekas D6.
1 Chair and Institute of Environmental Medicine, UNIKA-T, Technical University of Munich and Helmholtz Zentrum München, Germany – German Research Center for Environmental Health, Augsburg, Germany.
2 CK-CARE, Christine Kühne – Center for Allergy Research and Education, Davos, Switzerland.
3 Department of Ecology, School of Biology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece.
4 1st Pulmonary Department, “G. Papanikolaou” General Hospital of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece.
5 Internal Medicine Department, “G. Gennimatas” General Hospital of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece.
6 Pulmonary Department, Faculty of Medicine, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece.