Allergy research in rural, alpine, and urban networks

ALRAUNE represented an interdisciplinary project in allergy research involving the following collaboration partners: the Department of Molecular Biology and the School of Education at the Paris Lodron University of Salzburg, the Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg, the “Pädagogische Hochschule” Salzburg, the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences and the “Höhere land- und forstwirtschaftliche Schule” in Ursprung.

The project aimed to investigate exposition versus sensitization to indoor allergens (house dust mite, cat, dog) and compared the influence of environmental factors (rural, urban and alpine habitats) on the development of allergic diseases. The central working team was formed by school pupils and teachers in education who interacted closely with the scientists and the School of Education. The team designed a questionnaire, collected data, recruited study participants, performed laboratory experiments, and evaluated the study. In parallel, information and teaching material on allergy research was provided by the team.

ALRAUNE investigated exposition versus sensitization in 500 pupils in the county of Salzburg using microarray and ELISA technology. A questionnaire further evaluated the living environment and habits of the adolescents. It was important that pupils from different regions are participating in the study in order to provide insight to environmental factors that might contribute to the allergic sensitization. Results were disseminated via local media to the general public.

Furthermore, scientific papers were published and data was discussed at national and international conferences. In addition, the team organized specific science communication events, where experts together with school pupils and teachers in education actively participated. ALRAUNE has reached a sustainable effect by establishing a new lecture for basic education of teachers at the School of Education, as well as for further training at the “Pädagogische Hochschule” in Salzburg. Thus, a closer interaction of academic scientists, education and training institutions has been achieved.

Within the framework of the additional Citizen Science element citizens could contribute to the development of an online questionnaire which dealt with allergies and lifestyle. Their contribution to the ideas and experiences supported the improvement of the diagnosis and therapy of allergies.

This project has been completed.