Good News coming for Asthma Patients
A universal cure for asthma and food allergies is on the horizon after scientists found a way to convince the immune system to ignore triggers like pollen or peanuts.
The new approach involves taking a small amount of the problem food or allergen and encasing it in a special shell to form a ‘nanoparticle’ which the immune system sees as debris.
When specialist cleaning cells move in to sweep away the debris, they find the hidden cargo, but send out a signal to say that it is not harmful.
“The findings represent a novel, safe and effective long-term way to treat and potentially ‘cure’ patients with life-threatening respiratory and food allergies,” said Professor Stephen Miller of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Illinois, US.
“This may eliminate the need for life-long use of medications to treat lung allergy.
“It’s a universal treatment. Depending on what allergy you want to eliminate, you can load up the nanoparticle with ragweed pollen or a peanut protein.”
The approach has been trialled for autoimmune diseases including multiple sclerosis and celiac disease but it is the first time this method for creating tolerance in the immune system has been used in allergic diseases.
The asthma allergy study was in mice, but trials in humans are likely to begin soon.
In trials, the allergen, in this case egg protein, was administered into the lungs of mice who have been pre-treated to be allergic to the protein and already had antibodies in their blood against it.
So when they were re-exposed to it, they responded with an allergic response like asthma.
However after being treated with the nanoparticle, they no longer had an allergic response to the allergen.
The treatment also creates a more normal, balanced immune system by increasing the number of regulatory T cells, immune cells important for recognizing the airway allergens as normal.
This method turns off the dangerous Th2 T cells that causes the allergy and expands the good, calming regulatory T cells.
The research was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Culled from Telegraph.co.uk