Molecular Allergology Lab
Our research lab – which is part of the Personalized Medicine, Asthma and Allergy Unit – aims at understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms behind chronic inflammatory diseases of the airways (such as severe asthma, chronic uncontrolled rhino-sinusitis and nasal polyposis) and peculiar aspects of the allergic response, using a translational, bench to bedside approach.
Both the prevalence and the severity of allergic diseases and asthma are on the rise worldwide, especially in developing countries and in children and young adults. Globally, around 300 million people suffers from asthma and 400 million from rhinitis. To face this growing challenge we need a multidisciplinary and translational approach, spanning from clinical research and practice, to epidemiology, to the preclinical experiments to uncover the molecular and cellular mechanisms responsible for allergic reactions and associated respiratory inflammatory diseases. In fact, since the first appearance of the term “allergy” in 1906, and despite extensive research and considerable understanding of the environmental triggers, we still know little of the biological pathways behind allergic reactions.
Main research areas
Non-invasive biomarkers of airways inflammation
Among our research efforts, we coordinated the standardization process for the Fractional Exhaled Nitric Oxide (FENO) measurement method. FENO is a non-invasive biomarker of type 2 inflammation of the airways, and we have studied it in the context of chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyposis, finding that type 2 inflammation in these patients extensively involves all upper and lower airway districts.
Epidemiology of severe asthma, uncontrolled chronic rhinosinusitis and allergen-immunotherapy
Our group has a leadership position in the main disease registries, national and international, of severe asthma, chronic rhinosinusitis and of patients receiving allergen specific immunotherapy. The results obtained from these registers made it possible to identify peculiar and sometimes unexpected clinical, therapeutic and phenotypic characteristics.
Real-life effectiveness of innovative drugs
We played a prominent role in the PROXIMA study (Patient Reported Outcomes and Xolair® In the Management of Asthma) which demonstrated, for example, that the efficacy of omalizumab (anti-IgE monoclonal antibody) is similar in severe allergic asthmatics and is not limited to the classic early-onset severe asthma phenotypes associated with allergic rhinitis, but that it can also be extended to different phenotypes.
Following the launch of the anti-SARS-CoV-2 vaccination campaign, we pioneered early identification and clinical management of cases potentially susceptible of developing severe allergic reactions to these vaccines, demonstrating that by applying a rigorous allergological work-up protocol it is possible to prevent rare allergic reactions to vaccines and simultaneously guarantee vaccination to all patients.