Food Sensitivity & Intolerance 

One fifth of the worldwide population experience adverse reactions to food. These reactions can be divided into food intolerances and food sensitivities according to their underlying pathophysiology. Celiac disease and food allergies are the most characterized food sensitivities and strict avoidance of dietary antigen is the only known treatment. It is estimated that 250 million people suffer from food allergy globally; in Canada alone, more than 2.5 million people are allergic to foods.

We believe intestinal microbes can participate in both homeostatic responses and loss of oral tolerance in food-induced allergy (e.g., peanut allergy). Food-induced allergy is largely mediated by immunoglobulin E (IgE). However, there is often a disconnect between clinical presentation and serum levels of food-specific IgE. The effect of bacterial digestion of antigen remains to be fully understood in this context. In partnership with the Jimenez-Saiz Lab, we research bacteria which have an ability to degrade peanut. The culture and identification of peanut-degrading bacteria allows us to understand how resident microbiota may affect host allergy. We are particularly excited about the use of gnotobiotic mice to gain an in vivo perspective on peanut degradation and allergic response.

 

We also investigate food intolerances in inflammatory bowel disease patients. This clinical project in collaboration with Dr. Narula connects clinical research with wet lab techniques to better understand associations between certain food intolerances and inflammatory bowel disease. 

Together with Verdu Lab, we have also researched the human microbiota in Celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune inflammatory enteropathy triggered by gluten intake in genetically susceptible people. Interestingly, only a small percentage of genetically susceptible people develop Celiac disease. Our collaborative efforts have deciphered different mechanisms by which microbes participate in Celiac disease.

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Working in the atrium

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Gel Electrophoresis
Gel Electrophoresis

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Staining
Staining

Immunohistochemistry of mouse colon samples

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