Mapping specificity of allergen recognition for precision medicine in allergic rhinitis and asthma

Masters or Honours Project: Masters

Anticipated State Date: Semester 1, 2021


Project Background                    

Approximately two thirds of the 19.3% of Australians with allergic rhinitis (hayfever) are allergic to grass pollen allergens. The QUT Allergy Research Group has shown regional differences in patterns of allergic sensitisation to grass pollens of different subfamilies of grasses.  Whilst the major allergen components have been cloned and expressed, and the relative avidity of patient serum IgE to a panel of these allergens has been determined, the comparative epitope specificity of patient serum IgE for related allergens from different grass subfamilies have not been mapped. In this project, the surface epitopes for patient serum IgE for the major allergen Pas n 1 of Bahia grass and Cyn d 1 of Bermuda grass will be determined using phage display technology and molecular modelling. The expected outcomes of this project will provide evidence to explain observed differences in patient IgE binding to major allergens of grass pollens, with clinical relevance for choice of allergen specific immunotherapy for management of patients with severe allergic rhinitis and asthma.  The specific aims of this project are to determine and compare IgE epitopes of grass pollen allergen components from different sources with a panel of serum from well characterised patients of the multicentre clinical Grass Pollen Allergy Survey.


The specific aims are to establish an allergen stability test of combinations of aqueous allergen extracts used clinically for allergen specific immunotherapy and to evaluate the change in content of key allergen components over time.

Approaches / Skills and Techniques

The student will gain an appreciation for applied allergy research and have the opportunity to engage in collaborative research involving industry partners. The successful student will be invited to join the multidisciplinary QUT Allergy Research Group that is funded by NHMRC and ARC as well as government and competitive foundation grants.


The student will apply established serological immunoassay and phage display techniques to address a specific research question leading to publishable outcomes of clinical relevance within the duration of this Masters project.

Interested students can join the multidisciplinary QUT Allergy Research Group that is funded by NHMRC and ARC as well as government and competitive foundation grants and highly engaged with clinical, academic and industry partners.

Required Skills and Experience (optional)

Training and understanding of protein chemistry, molecular biology, bioinformatics and/or immunology would be beneficial.