Allergic diseases are reaching epidemic proportions, now affecting 1 in 3 Canadians. Allergies are inappropriately high immune responses against innocuous allergens. Understanding why the immune system reacts in this way is crucial to identify new drug targets.
Proteases are enzymes that cut other proteins from allergenic sources, for example dust mites and mould. Proteases are potent triggers of allergic responses. However, an understanding of the proteins they cut and how they fit into the global picture of allergic responses is lacking.
Dr. Machado Hernandez’s research will work to identify the key proteins involved in allergic responses triggered by proteases, or cut by proteases, using an innovative and highly advanced technique known as “degradomics”—a method of uniquely identifying the cut ends of proteins by purifying them from the rest of the protein. As cuts are formed only during active disease, these segments are highly valuable as disease markers to develop new clinical tests and identify new drug targets.
The roles of these proteins and their cut products will be deciphered by biochemical and immunological studies to reveal the damaged proteins and proteases that can be targeted with new drugs to improve health outcomes and ensure sustainable health care costs.