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IgEPath - Contributions of IgE-antibodies and IgE effector cells to host defense against pathogenic bacteria


In combination, Immunoglobulin E antibodies (IgEs) and IgE effector cells, most importantly mast cells (MCs) and basophils, are best known for their disease-causing roles in allergic conditions. MCs can also participate in innate host defense against pathogens and toxins. In contrast, physiologic functions of IgEs that benefit the host are still elusive. Dr. Philipp Starkl led a recent study reporting the critical role of IgEs and IgE effector cells in a beneficial type 2 immune response against bee venom in mice, supporting the idea that allergies represent defense mechanisms against toxins. Toxins that induce IgE development are also produced by various pathogenic bacteria. IgE production during bacterial infection has been considered detrimental since it is associated with the exacerbation of atopic diseases.
This study investigates the hypothesis that toxin-specific IgEs can be important for acquired immunity against pathogenic bacteria by increasing the sensitivity, extent and specificity of the bactericidal MC response.
The main objective of this study is to decipher the roles of IgEs and IgE effector cells in host defense against invasive secondary infections with antibiotic resistant pathogenic bacteria, which are a major health problem in Europe.
The experimental approach facilitates knowledge transfer between the US and EU and complementarily combines the applicant’s expertise in type 2 immunity, IgEs and MCs (acquired in the US) and Prof. Sylvia Knapp’s competence in bacterial infections and involves in vivo mouse models of infection in transgenic mouse strains and MC in vitro models.
The secondment in a pharmaceutical company will inspire collaboration and translation of results into vaccine development.
This MSC fellowship will support the applicant’s career development by fostering acquisition of novel expertise in infectious diseases, collaboration with and reintegration into the European research community and connecting with the industrial sector.


Net EU contribution
€ 166 156,80
Spitalgasse 23
1090 Wien

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Ostösterreich Wien Wien
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00