Dr. Commins’ Lab
Scott Commins, MD, PhD
The primary research goal of Dr. Commins’ lab is to discover the immunologic mechanisms which lead to alpha-gal red meat allergy, which is an allergic response to the carbohydrate galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose.
This novel food allergy affects adults and children who had previously been able to safely eat meat for years, and appears to arise following tick bites. Alpha-gal food allergy can be difficult to diagnose because allergic reactions occur several hours after eating meat and are often not associated with the causative meal. A better understanding of alpha-gal is needed to design successful treatment for this unique and expanding allergic disease.
Dr. Commins’ lab uses a combination of human and animal studies to investigate the basic mechanisms of the allergic response to alpha-gal as well as its epidemiology. His lab is particularly interested in defining the role of tick bites in creating the allergic response and whether other insects or exposures can also cause the alpha-gal allergy. Through a novel mouse model, Dr. Commins’ lab will be able to examine which subset of B cells is responsible for producing the IgE response to alpha-gal as well as understand the natural history of the allergy. Ultimately, insights gained from the mechanistic investigations in mice will be used to inform the ongoing research with human volunteers to design effective therapies.
Additional interests of the lab include studies of eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) and the role of environmental as well as food exposures in contributing to this EoE. Dr. Commins is working with colleagues to investigate whether there is an association between aluminum adjuvants in childhood vaccines and IgE responses to food.