Engaged in exploring the molecular basis of allergy

Allergy is one of the most widespread health concerns particularly in western countries, and its prevalence is rapidly increasing due to reasons still unknown. At Alislab we work to find what are the key molecular determinants of sensitization to allergens of plant origin and to elucidate the causes of related phenomena as cross-reactivity.

20 years helping improve diagnosis and treatment of allergy

Integrated in the Spanish Allergy Health Network (RETICS-Programme Carlos III Institute), our group has been studying the molecular basis of plant allergy for over 20 years, characterizing allergens, and improving their diagnosis and treatment.

Our research activity has been following in recent years two different but complementary working strategies.

  • We use techniques and methods from Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Immunology to identify and characterize in vitro and in vivo the molecular mechanisms underlying the allergic response.
  • We also resort to computational methods to study in silico the physicochemical and structural properties of allergens. Docking analyses, electrostatic potentials and molecular mechanics calculations, as well as molecular dynamics simulations are employed to investigate modes of protein-ligand binding, protein-protein interactions, and oligomerization states of allergens.

This dual approach has been applied to deepen our knowledge on the molecular basis of allergenicity using two model, prototypical allergens: Pru p 3, the major allergen from peach, and Alt a 1, the principal allergen of Alternaria fungi associated to chronic asthma and other respiratory conditions. These two proteins thus represent models for food allergens and for aeroallergens, respectively .

In the search for common denominators for allergenicity, one of the most relevant results of our group has been the discovery of the key role played by the presence of ligands carried by allergen proteins in the sensitization phase of allergic disease.

Part of AllerScreening consortium

AllerScreening consortium is aimed at developing new methods of detection of allergy by using multiplexed label free methods, ensuring efficiency and comfort if compared with current methods.

New research lines in computational structural biology

With the goal of developing new in silico methods to obtain information on interactions and structural features of protein systems in immunological contexts, we have just started new research lines in computational structural biology. On the one side, we are working on calculation procedures to treat proteins and other biomolecules based on empiric models of electron density. On the other side, we are also interested in exploring methods able to study ligand transfer processes.

In addition to developing new methodology, our expertise in computational structural biology has led us to collaborate with other research groups working in different areas of medicine, chemistry, biology and biotechnology. This activity is reflected in more than 20 articles in last years co-authored with many colleagues in other groups.