Skip to main content

ACTERIA Doctoral Thesis Prize 2015 in Allergology

Dr. Sandra Wieser-Pahr

Sandra Pahr, 29, graduated from the Medical University of Vienna (MUW) and defended her thesis in September, 2014. She obtained her PhD in Immunology under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Rudolf Valenta, Center for Pathophysiology, Infectiology and Immunology, Department of Pathophysiology and Allergy Research, Medical University of Vienna. She is author or co-author on 10 research articles in Clinical and Experimental Allergy (2012), Journal of Immunology (2012), Occupational and Environmental Medicine (2013), Amino Acids (2013), Methods (2014), Allergy (2014), PLOS One (2014) and in the top journal of allergy research, the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (2013, 2013, 2014). Additionally, she contributed to a review (Gastroenterology) and to an international patent.

Dr. Pahr’s research activity focuses on the development of novel diagnostic tools and new immunological treatment strategies for wheat-induced hypersensitivity disorders. Based on the route of entry, wheat proteins can induce respiratory allergy as well as wheat food allergy, which can lead to severe and life-threatening anaphylactic reactions in sensitized patients. Since diagnosis of wheat allergy needs improvement, Sandra Pahr established serological tests based on purified recombinant wheat molecules to specifically identify patients suffering from wheat-induced diseases. Using a discovery approach of screening a wheat seed cDNA library with allergic patients’ IgE antibodies, she isolated several IgE-reactive cDNA clones coding for wheat allergens. Sandra Pahr identified and characterized hitherto unknown important wheat allergens and produced them as recombinant proteins. In particular, she could demonstrate that alpha purothionin and low molecular weight glutenin are important serological marker allergens to specifically diagnose wheat food allergy. Dr. Pahr then created a microarray-based component-resolved diagnostic test comprising a comprehensive set of wheat allergens which allows testing extremely small serum samples towards a large panel of wheat allergens. The wheat allergen array represents a precise in-vitro diagnostic tool to specifically identify wheat allergic patients and to distinguish the various clinical manifestations of wheat allergies.

Dr Pahr is currently working as a post-doctoral fellow at the Department of Pathophysiology and Allergy Research, Medical University of Vienna on the molecular and immunological characterization of wheat gamma gliadins as basis for the development of immunological strategies for treatment of wheat food allergy and celiac disease.