Dietary strategies for allergy prevention in children

There is still no treatment that can fully cure children with asthma and allergic diseases. Treatments are concentrated on tackling the symptoms. The symptoms can thus be relieved but the treatments usually have to be taken by patients for very long periods of time or even their whole lives. The best long-term therapy is still the avoidance of the causative allergen, e.g. certain foods.

As yet no effective strategies for preventing allergies have been found by researchers. There is hence a need to develop new approaches.

The prevention of allergies by means of diet in early childhood is one such approach that deserves consideration. Until recently prevention simply involved advising people to avoid certain foods, especially in infancy and early childhood. However, the latest recommendations no longer point in this direction. This is because it has not been proved that leaving out certain foods or introducing them at a later stage can actually prevent allergies. On the contrary, new proposals concentrate on the fact that early contact with allergens can induce immune tolerance. For instance, a time window might be opened in early childhood for preventing the development of allergies.

In our study on farmers’ children (PASTURE/EFRAIM) we have already shown that varied baby food in the first year of life reduces the risk of atopic dermatitis. We also demonstrated the same effect for asthma, food allergy and allergic sensitisation. Independently of these findings, we were also able to show the protective effect of supplementary baby food, mainly dairy products (e.g. yoghurt), introduced in the first year of life (as described in the Newsletter of October 2012).

Our findings from the farmers’ children study support the hypothesis that early contact with different allergens in the child’s intestinal tract is necessary for immune tolerance to develop. The nature of the diet, the gut flora and the immune response are closely interconnected. One possible explanation for the protective effect might be the early colonisation of the gut with microbes and their metabolic products. It has already been shown that what are known as short-chain fatty acids, metabolic products of certain intestinal bacteria, have an anti-inflammatory effect. These short chain fatty acids are generated by the fermentation of carbohydrates in the intestinal tract but they are also contained in food. One of these fatty acids, butyrate, is found in the triglycerides of cow’s milk. Therefore the natural butyrate content is high in dairy products.

We observed the preventive effect of short-chain fatty acids for the first time in the mouse model of allergic respiratory inflammation (similar to asthma).We gave the short-chain fatty acids orally to the mice throughout the duration of the experiment. In a healthy lung there are normally only a few macrophages passing through the lung. As soon as an allergy is triggered, the cell count in the lung rises sharply, which is mainly due to the migration of eosinophilic cells. We flushed out the lungs of mice in our allergy model and counted the cells they contained. We were able to demonstrate that the administration of short-chain fatty acids can markedly reduce the number of cells contained in the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL, washing out the lung).

Messengers typical of an allergy also decrease markedly due to the administration of short-chain fatty acids, which further confirms the protective effect of these fatty acids in allergy.

These promising results in the mouse model have prompted us to tackle further projects along these lines. There are plans to administer short-chain fatty acids in combination with a butyrate boosting substrate as well as butyrate-producing probiotics.

In the study on farmers’ children we plan to investigate the level of short-chain fatty acids in stool samples from the first year of life. The link between fatty acid content and diet is to be investigated.

The results outlined above point to possible avenues for developing effective dietary strategies for the prevention of allergic diseases.

Certification by the Swiss Biobanking Platform – VITA-Label

Building up a proper Governance through accountable mechanisms is key to foster trustworthiness and the pre-requisite for the appropriate use of biological resources. Our CK-CARE Biobank has recently been awarded by Swiss Biobanking Platform (SBP) with the VITA Label, which demonstrates compliance with the applicable legal and ethical framework. This labelling approach is part of our long-term strategy to strengthen biobanking practices and provide high-quality samples to the research community.

CK-CARE Team Meeting October 10th- 11th, 2022

This year’s CK-CARE team event in Davos focused on strengthening cross-center communication and collaboration. Our team members learned more about each other and the canton Graubünden by producing several Grison specialties «Cross-center team building» to prepare the scientific work.

Embarking on this journey made all the difference in promoting real teamwork! Despite the fact none of us really knew how to make these Grison delicacies let alone had the relevant skills, each team excelled in their own unique way. Driven by trust, respect and a genuine motivation to solve the given tasks, team members rose to the challenge of collaboration with fun and creativity. All vital ingredients to the following day research acitivities.

It has been a truly remarkable meeting – we look forward to many more.

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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