New allergen patterns in beer allergy

Experience shows that people who have an allergic reaction to beer are merely greeted with a grin from those around them. Nevertheless, these reactions can definitely be life-threatening. The prevalence of beer allergy in Germany is low. Therefore cooperation with Chongquing Medical University (China) and a CK-CARE exchange programme provided a useful opportunity to study 20 cases of anaphylaxis following beer consumption.

As well as detailed history-taking and clinical examination, skin tests were performed with 12 different materials. These originated from native beer production in collaboration with the Institute of Brewing and Beverage Technology at the Weihenstephan Science Centre of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and comprised not only barley and barley malt but also sorghum, millet, maize and yeast, hops and enzymes, substances which are used in China but also in many countries around the world. Furthermore, various original types of beer were introduced into the tests. In addition, oral challenge tests were performed after the success of the skin testing.

75% of the patients showed positive reactions to at least one or more beer ingredients, most commonly to sorghum and sorghum malt. Seventeen patients reacted in the oral challenge with predominantly skin symptoms in the form of flush and urticaria, which lasted up to two hours. A total of 5 patients reacted to hops, 2 of them reacting solely to hops. Seven patients reacted to millet but frequently in concurrent reactions to barley or sorghum. One patient reacted to yeast in isolation. It may be concluded from these tests that beer allergy is not a simple phenomenon, but quite different ingredients in beer can trigger severe reactions. In conjunction with growing globalisation and the availability of foreign beer varieties, an increase in beer allergies might also be observed in Central Europe (Song et al 2013 in press). To pre-empt possible comments, we have also observed cases of anaphylactic reactions to grape juice and wine.

Kühne-Foundation Annual Report 2023

“Entrepreneurial success should go hand in hand with the promotion of  the common good. The Kühne Foundation fulfills this task. With a variety of programs and projects, the founder and the Kühne Foundation also assume their socio-political responsibility.”

The activities were significantly expanded, particularly in the area of logistics. In addition, the new focus area of climate action was established, and the first projects were launched.

Prof. Dr. h.c. Klaus-Michael Kühne


How flexible are neutrophils to opposing signaling?

Paola Martinez Murillo a postdoctoral researcher in Pierre-Yves Mantel’s group from CK-CARE obtained a Spark grant from the SNSF to investigate the effect of opposite signals on neutrophil biology in atopic dermatitis.

Spark is a Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) funding scheme aiming to support projects that show unconventional thinking and introduce a unique approach. The Spark is highly competitive and supports projects based on promising ideas of high originality. CK-CARE was recognized as an eligible institution in June 2023 by the SNSF, opening new funding opportunities for the CK-CARE researchers.

This project aims to understand how two opposing signals: eczema dysregulated immune environment (Th2 response) and bacterial colonization (Th1 response) impact neutrophils function.

Neutrophils are tiny but powerful immune cells in our blood that fight off bacteria and viruses. They live for only 2-3 days and can quickly respond to infections. Neutrophils can adapt to different situations thanks to their genetic instructions (RNA). Our body’s reversible changes in reading DNA, called epigenomic modifications, are crucial for a functional immune response.

Eczema, a chronic skin condition, happens when various factors like genetics, skin damage, and immune reactions go haywire. People with eczema have neutrophils that do not work as well in fighting bacteria, making them more prone to infections.

This study addresses a knowledge gap in neutrophil adaptation to an allergic milieu, by evaluating neutrophil adaptation to anti-bacterial response in a type 2 immune response dominated context such as atopic dermatitis using transcriptional and epigenomic profiling along with comprehensive analysis of neutrophil functionality (netosis, phagocytosis, ROS-production, bactericidal activity, chemotaxis). Building upon in-vitro stimulation insights, then we will aim for a comprehensive analysis of neutrophil functionality in atopic dermatitis patients treated or not with Dupilumab.

Environmental exposure and sensitization patterns in a Swiss alpine pediatric cohort

The level of environmental exposure throughout life may contribute to the prevalence of allergic sensitization and allergic disease. The alpine climate has been considered a healthy climate with little allergen exposure and pollution. We conducted a cross-sectional study to investigate local environmental exposure and concomitant prevalence of allergic sensitization among local school children born and raised in an alpine environment.

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Spatial transcriptomics combined with single-cell RNA-sequencing unravels the complex inflammatory cell network in atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder affecting up to 3%–5% of adults and 20% of children worldwide. The pathophysiology of AD involves various factors including host genetics, altered skin barrier function, and immunological abnormalities. 

Atopic dermatitis: Correlation of distinct risk factors with age of onset in adulthood compared to childhood

Atopic dermatitis (AD) has long been regarded as a primarily pediatric disease. However, there is growing evidence for a high rate of adult-onset AD. We aimed to characterize factors associated with adult-onset versus childhood-onset AD and controls.
An analysis of the CK-CARE-ProRaD cohort revealed adult-onset AD in nearly a quarter of patients. We identified active smoking to be associated with adult-onset AD versus controls. Food allergy, maternal food allergy, palmar hyper linearity, and academic background increased the odds of childhood-onset AD versus controls.

Shared AD-associated factors were maternal AD (4-34x), increased IgE (2-20x), atopic stigmata (2-3x) with varying effect sizes depending on AD onset and control group. Patients with adult-compared to childhood-onset had doubled odds of allergic rhinitis, but reduced odds to feature multiple (3-4) atopic comorbidities. Adult-onset AD, particularly onset ≥61 years, grouped mainly in clusters with low contributions of personal and familial atopy and high frequencies of physical inactivity, childhood-onset AD, particularly infant-onset, mainly in “high-atopic”-clusters.

The identified associated factors suggest partly varying endo- and exogeneous mechanisms underlying adult-onset versus childhood-onset AD. Our findings might contribute to better assessment of the individual risk to develop AD throughout life and encourage prevention by non-smoking and physical activity as modifiable lifestyle factors.

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.