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Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2020-10-01 - 2023-09-30

IgE-associated allergy affects more than 30% of the population and hence is the most common immunologically mediated hypersensitivity disease. The hallmark of allergy is the formation of IgE antibodies against per se innocuous antigens (i.e., allergens) in allergic patients. IgE-allergen immune complexes trigger immediate symptoms of allergic inflammation. The unique feature of this research program is the focus on the molecular characterization of the disease-causing allergens. Clinically relevant allergens will be used to study the mechanisms of allergy in patients, to establish tools for molecular diagnosis and for the investigation of the evolution of allergy in early childhood, to investigate avoidance and vaccination strategies for personalized treatment in the sense of precision medicine and most importantly, to develop allergen-specific prevention strategies such as man-made-reduction of allergen exposure, prophylactic vaccination strategies, and preventive tolerance induction using novel vectors, adjuvants, oral tolerance induction and cell-based strategies. The “Danube Allergy Research Cluster (Danube-ARC)” is an Allergy Research program consisting of 16 research projects. Scientists from the Medical University of Vienna are teaming up with researchers from the country of Lower Austria, i.e. the Austrian Intitute of Technology (AIT, Tulln), the BOKU Departments of Agrobiotechnology (IFA-Tulln) and Crop Sciences (DNW, Tulln) and the Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences (KL, Krems, St.Pölten, Tulln).
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2020-03-01 - 2023-02-28

The rise in antimicrobial resistances is a global threat to human health. Apart from hospitals, where multi-resistant bacteria pose an acute problem, the spread of human-derived antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB) and resistance genes (ARG) from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) into river ecosystems is of growing concern as river water is used for a variety of purposes (drinking water production, recreation, irrigation). Although an increasing number of studies have been published in recent years demonstrating the presence of human-derived ARB and ARG in rivers, no comprehensive quantitative concept exists that describes and explains the distribution patterns, and driving factors of human-derived ARB and ARG in these environments. For this project, a new quantitative concept was developed to study the distribution patterns, propagation pathways and driving factors of human-derived ARB and ARG along four rivers in Lower Austria exhibiting gradients in river size, land use, fecal pollution, hospital wastewater and potential co-selection factors. The following hypotheses shall be tested: (1) In water, human-derived ARB and ARG abundances are coupled to the extent of fecal pollution from WWTPs and to the extent of wastewater input from hospitals. This coupling is independent from the longitudinal development of the river. (2) In biofilms, human-derived ARB and ARG abundances can be uncoupled from the extent of fecal pollution and from hospital wastewater input. In the presence of specific ecological selection factors such as metals or pesticides, an amplification of ARB and ARG occurs. The new concept is based on the quantification of human-derived ARB and ARG in specific bacterial targets, determined in water and biofilms by a combined cultivation and DNA-based approach. This information will be linked with quantitative data on the extent and sources of fecal pollution (following the human wastewater path) and with a comprehensive assessment of the environmental conditions. This study will stimulate new ideas to understand and manage microbial water quality and antibiotic resistance in rivers. At the global level, the proposal is directly addressing the fundamental requirements of the research agenda defined for water, sanitation and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) of the WHO Global Action Plan for AMR. At the uropean level it directly addresses the concrete action plan to close knowledge gaps on AMR within the EU AMR Action Plan. At the local level, it directly contributes to the prioritised research area “Organic trace substances” within the “Water” topic of the recent FTI strategy for Lower Austria. Sustainable collaborations will be stimulated between the project partners of the ICC Water & Health at KL Krems, of the department IFA-Tulln of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna and of the Medical University Graz. By this, the project will contribute in a sustainable manner to the welfare of Lower Austria and beyond.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2020-01-01 - 2022-12-31

Fumonisins are produced by various Fusarium (and Aspergillus) spp. and are often occurring on maize and maize products. They are potent renal toxins, cancer promoters and cause birth defects. Maximum (or guidance) levels in food (and feed) have been set by authorities worldwide, but unaltered mycotoxins are not the only source of exposure for consumers. Fumonisins are prone to be non-covalently bound with proteins and complex carbohydrates. In addition, next to nothing is known about covalently bound fumonisins or about the natural occurrence of (potential) fumonisin metabolites other than their hydrolysed forms. Currently there is a lack of knowledge in the understanding how fumonisins interact with plants in in which form they are incorporated and carried over in food. In their recent report from 2018, the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) specifically recommends that “studies should be conducted to better understand the occurrence of bound fumonisins … and their bioavailability after consumption”. To the best of our knowledge this is the first study worldwide that systematically aims to answer the questions raised above and therefore to significantly contribute to the risk assessment of these food contaminants.

Supervised Theses and Dissertations