“Allergens attacking” at LIH’s workshop at the Science Festival
This year’s Science Festival, a large science event organised for the public every two years by the National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) and the National Research Fund Luxembourg (FNR), attracted again over 10,000 visitors, among these 3600 pupils from primary and high school classes. At this 10th edition, from 12th to 15th November, visitors could discover 57 stands, exhibitions and shows. LIH was present with an educative workshop that informed in a playful manner about allergies, one of the research topics of the institute’s Department of Infection & Immunity (DII).
More than 30 LIH employees, mostly from DII, were mobilised for organising and holding the “allergens attacking” workshop during the four days. The organisation was coordinated by Dr Christiane Hilger, deputy head of the Allergology - Immunology - Inflammation Research Unit at DII. ‘I am very satisfied with the affluence that we had at our stand’, tells Dr Hilger. ‘It was visited by 10 school classes on the first two days, and on the weekend, when the festival was open to the public at large, numerous families came to participate and ask questions. Some chose to visit the stand especially because members of their family or themselves are directly concerned by allergies’, she states.
Indeed, about 20-30% of the population in industrialised countries have at least one allergy. The most common ones are respiratory allergies against indoor allergens and pollen. Food allergies are less common, but have a strong impact on quality of life. LIH’s “allergens attacking” workshop allowed visitors to get insights into the cellular mechanisms triggered by the immune system when developing food and airway allergies. Workshop participants were also introduced to allergy diagnosis tests and the recent European legislation that renders the specific indication of allergy-causing ingredients mandatory for pre-packed and fresh food products since 2011 and 2014, respectively. To test their newly gained knowledge, visitors could take part in an interactive quiz.