Can scientists now stop allergic reactions before they happen?
There won’t be any new therapies on the market any time soon but the results from tests are promising.
Allergic reactions occur when an allergen enters the body. The body sees the allergen as a foreign invader so it launches an over the top immune response. An allergen-specific IgE antibody is released in huge quantities which bind to mast cells.
Mast cells contain histamine which is an important weapon in the body’s fight against infection. When the IgE binds to the mast cells, the cell releases its histamine.
Histamine is what causes the allergy symptoms like hives, rash, wheezing etc. this is why the treatment for allergies are called anti-histamines. They block histamine from binding to its receptors thereby easing or stopping allergic symptoms.
In more severe allergic reactions, adrenaline is given to boost blood pressure, open airways, and reduce the release of histamines.
New research carried out at Aarhus University in Denmark looks to prevent IgE binding to mast cells thereby preventing histamine release and allergy symptoms.
This would mean they could prevent the reaction before it begins.
The new antibody is called 026 sdab. The antibody prevents IgE from getting to it’s receptors CD23 and FceRI which prevents the allergic reaction. Once these receptors are blocked, it doesn’t matter if the body produces millions of allergen-specific IgE molecules.
The antibody has been tested using the blood of people with allergies to birch pollen and insect venom. Within 15 minutes, the levels of IgE were down to 30% of the starting amount.
There is already one anti-IgE therapy on the market, omalizumab, an injectable therapy for severe cases of allergic asthma. This new antibody is smaller, easier to produce and more stable meaning it would not need to be injected.
The new research could lead to the discovery of more antibodies., speeding up the development of new anti-allergy drugs in the future.
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