Some genius researchers at the University of Queensland have been working on an allergy-busting treatment and they’ve hit on a potential solution that could change – and ultimately save – lives.
Turning off allergies
The new therapy being developed by Associate Professor Ray Steptoe and his UQ Diamantina Institute team works by erasing the memory of allergy-affected cells so that they don’t continue to react – and build up resistance to conventional treatments – when exposed to allergens.
The team – amazingly – has in fact been able to completely ‘turn-off’ this cell-driven immune response which causes allergic reaction in animals.
This news is exciting for asthma sufferers who may be on a merry-go-round of medications trying to keep their symptoms under control. It may also prove to be a game-changer for those who suffer from peanut, shellfish and other allergies.
We told you it was genius.
The next step is to replicate these results in humans with Dr Steptoe revealing the eventual goal would be a single injected gene therapy that prevents allergies.
“Wipe the memory”
“When someone has an allergy or asthma flare-up, the symptoms they experience results from immune cells reacting to protein in the allergen,” Dr Steptoe explained to Science Daily.
“The challenge in asthma and allergies is that these immune cells, known as T-cells, develop a form of immune ‘memory’ and become very resistant to treatments.
“We have now been able ‘wipe’ the memory of these T-cells in animals with gene therapy, de-sensitising the immune system so that it tolerates the protein.
“Our work used an experimental asthma allergen, but this research could be applied to treat those who have severe allergies to peanuts, bee venom, shell fish and other substances.”
One shot wonder
Obviously there is still quite a ways to go before allergic types can be “immunised” against these at best uncomfortable and at worst life-threatening responses, but the wheels are most definitely in motion.
The aim of the game is a simple, safe treatment for those that live with the worry of an allergy or asthma attack.
“We haven’t quite got it to the point where it’s as simple as getting a flu jab, so we are working on making it simpler and safer so it could be used across a wide cross-section of affected individuals. At the moment, the target population might be those individuals who have severe asthma or potentially lethal food allergies.” Dr Steptoe explained.
We can’t wait to hear more about this. Science is great!