Goal- Identify the development and immune altering effects of the microbiome on development of Food Allergy.
The MHWFAC research interests are focused on the mechanisms involved in development, prevention and treatment of food allergy. Interaction between the microbiome (bacteria, fungi, viruses) and the mucosal immune system can play a significant role in the prevention or development of food allergy. Dr. Huffnagle is a world expert on microbiome and its impact on immune responses. The Huffnagle and Lukacs laboratories utilize an interdisciplinary approach that combines research in pathophysiology, immunology, bacterial physiology and virulence, microbial ecology and microbial bioinformatics. Early research has demonstrated that what organisms populate the intestine, skin, and lungs during infancy are central to determining how the local and systemic immune system develops. While researchers do not yet completely understand the mechanisms surrounding the interaction of the microbiome and immune responses, it appears to be linked to the metabolic processes those bacteria provide for the host. Present research in the Center is combining unique modeling and characterization of the microbiome to understand how it can contribute to the tolerance and de-sensitization of the immune system to food antigens.
Ongoing microbiome projects in the MHWFAC include-
1. The role of the microbiome in preventing allergen leak from the gastrointestinal (GI) lumen
2. The role of yeast colonization in modulating bacterial communities in the GI tract and the subsequent effect(s) of these changes on the regulation of immunity in the GI tract and systemically
3. Multi-center program on development of early childhood allergic responses and the role of environmental household microbiome.
4. The role of microbiome manipulation in the mother on the development of allergic responses in neonates/infants.