New treatment for peanut allergy?
A new gene therapy developed by scientists at Weill Cornell Medicine could eventually prevent peanut allergy anaphylaxis with just a single dose. Peanuts are the most common food that induce life threatening reactions in those who are allergic. The new treatment boosts a previous treatment against peanut allergy anaphylaxis which proved effective but wears off after a few weeks. The new treatment could cure peanut allergies in a single dose.
Peanut allergies occur when the immune system over reacts to the presence of peanut in the body by producing a lot of Immunoglobulin E (IgE). This IgE causes the release of inflammatory chemicals which cause allergic reactions including anaphylaxis.
The drug omalizumab is a monoclonal antibody which binds to IgE and neutralises it. At the moment the drug only works for 2-4 weeks, must be injected and is expensive. In this new study, scientists looked at ways to make it more effective. They took the genetic sequence from the omalizumab drug and put it into a virus which they then injected into a peanut allergic mouse.
The researchers found that this single dose prevented allergic reactions in the mice who were allergic but never had a reaction as well as in mice that had experienced anaphylaxis in the past.
The technique has only been used in mice so far, but the scientists are hopeful that they can get the same results in humans. The technique could also be effective against other IgE-mediated allergies like bee stings and shellfish.
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