Professor Andreas Lopata

Professor Andreas Lopata is a molecular immunologist and Professorial Chair with the College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences at James Cook University (JCU). He is also Theme Leader of ‘Molecular Immunology’ within the Centre for Biodiscovery and Molecular Development of Therapeutics’. He leads the Molecular Allergy Research Laboratory (MARL) in the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM) at JCU.

Andreas has more than 27 years’ experience in the molecular immunological analysis of food allergens for better diagnostics and development of therapeutics, specific to the Australian-Asian region. His discoveries are now translated into mainstream diagnostics and therapeutics for seafood allergy with leading international industry partners. Andreas is considered a world leader on seafood allergy within the field of food allergies, has contributed to the development of national and international guidelines, and sits on national and international expert committees of lead professional societies in the field. Prof Lopata is Associate Editor for ‘Molecular Immunology’ (Elsevier) and Regional Associate Editor (Asia Pacific) for the World Allergy Association (WAO) Journal.

The discovery of allergens in various foods is central to our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of allergic reactions. Of the ‘‘Big Eight’’ allergen food groups, fish and shellfish presents a unique challenge in terms of allergen discovery due to the large number and diversity of consumed species. Across the globe, up to 5% of children and adults are allergic to some type of seafood, as they often experience life-threatening reactions. Co-sensitisation and clinical cross-reactivity of consumer with fish, crustacean and/or mollusc allergy is often described; however, the current diagnostic approaches to manage these patients are not based on sufficient molecular knowledge of these seafood allergens.

In addition, the international legislations for labelling processed food requires the identification and quantification of fish, crustacean and mollusc allergens.

Through the University’s detailed molecular studies on over 160 seafood species in its state-of-the-art laboratory, and the analysis of IgE antibody binding patters of over 300 patients, Andreas and his team are able to identify and characterise a range of allergenic proteins of clinical importance. The laboratory has currently registered 22 fully characterised seafood allergens with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and International Union of Immunological Societies Allergen Database. Sophisticated immunological and chemical assays developed by the group now allow the sensitive detection of the major seafood allergens in highly processed food.

Background of Andreas

Andreas boasts a wealth of experience and accolades in the allergy sector. Take a look below at just some of his achievements throughout his career.

  • Andreas received his BSc degree in the field of Biochemistry from the University of Dusseldorf, Germany.

  • From there, Andreas went on to receive his Masters degree (MSc) in Physiology, also from the University of Dusseldorf.

  • Since the completion of his PhD at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, Andreas has been working in the field of molecular immunology of food allergens. Contributing to is experience, Andreas completed his PhD on the allergic sensitisation to shellfish, placing a particular focus on abalone.

  • Just one of his many impressive achievements, Andreas developed the first commercial immunological test for abalone allergy, which is now worldwide available. Furthermore, he also developed commercial allergy tests for insect and pigeon allergy.

  • Throughout his career, Andreas had predominantly focused on developing and employing advanced immunological and molecular technologies, as he investigated the exposure to food-borne proteins which cause allergic sensitisation and inflammation. Andreas also was keen to develop novel diagnostics and intervention strategies against food allergy.

  • Andreas’ initial studies were conducted at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, and these were incredibly successful, as funding was received from the NIH (USA) and several MRC and NRF grants.

Andreas’ Qualifications in regard to Allergy Testing

Boasting a PhD in Medical Sciences, MsC in Physiology and a BSc in Biochemistry, Andreas has a real depth of expertise working in the allergy testing field.

He took up a keen interest when conducting his PhD on abalone allergy, around 25 years ago.

At this time, there was very little information available about seafood allergy. As allergy to seafood is quite frequent in South Africa, and the diagnostics were poorly developed, his work had a direct impact on the better management of patient with food allergy. Some of these tests are now available worldwide. Next up, in 2006, Andreas moved with my family to Australia where he established a new laboratory on the molecular immunology of food allergy.

Over the years, Andreas has developed several diagnostics alongside his team of scientists, and they are now readily available around the world.

Attracting him to his work, Andreas has a personal interest in allergen testing, and believes that helping people with food allergy is incredibly satisfying for him. He enjoys developing a team and has taken great pride in training young scientists from around the world in the growing field of food allergy diagnosis.

Relevant Professional Memberships

  • Member of the ‘Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology & Allergy’ (ASCIA)

  • Member of the Australasian Society for Immunology (ASI)

  • Member of the European Association of Allergology and Clinical Immunology (EAACI)

  • Member of the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Allergologie und Klinische Immunologie (Germany) (DGAKI)

  • Member of the Collegium Internationale Allergologicum (CIA)

Boards and Fellowships

  • ‘Future Fellow’ of the Australian Research Council, Australia (2012-2016)

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