How an Antibody May Prevent Allergic Reactions
Researchers at Aarhus University have made a serendipitous discovery that could help an enormous amount of patients who suffer from allergies. Though they were searching for a way to improve existing allergy treatments, their data pointed to a new way to approach allergy treatment. Their results, published in Nature Communications, demonstrate how an antibody can be used to block the immune reaction that leads to allergy symptoms.
Normally, when patients with allergies are exposed to allergens, they produce large amounts of IgE molecules. These molecules travel through the blood and attach to immune system cells called effector cells. When this attachment occurs, histamine production is triggered, which leads to the allergic reaction that the patient experiences.
What scientists have found is that there is an antibody that can interfere with this binding of IgE to two types of effector cells (called CD23 and FceRI). Not only does the antibody block the IgE molecules from attaching to these effector cells, but it can also remove IgE molecules from effectors cells after they have become bound to them.
Certain features of this new antibody make it interesting to researchers and clinicians. For instance, it is much smaller than other antibodies that are currently used in allergy medications. It is also very stable and may be able to be inhaled or swallowed rather than injected into patients. In addition to being more convenient and less painful, this feature of the antibody may also make it less expensive than it otherwise could be.
While the research is still in the preclinical stages, the results are promising. If this antibody can prevent IgE-effector cell attachment, then the amount of IgE the body produces will not be indicative of the subsequent allergic reaction. More research will have to be conducted to determine if and how this antibody can be used to prevent allergic reactions in patients.