Nanotechnology against pollen allergy

February 11, 2013

Scientists at the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin have now been able to identify the grass pollen molecule, against which the allergic response of hay fever in children is initiated. In addition, it was shown that the first individual antibodies generated in children against individual pollen molecules can be identified even before the initial symptoms of a pollen allergy are developed. The findings of this long-term study have appeared in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

In its study, the Molecular Allergology working group headed by Adj. Professor Dr. Paolo Matricardi of the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pneumonology and Immunology at the Campus Virchow-Klinikum, investigated the data and taken from 820 children. These children come from five cities in Germany and had been taking part in this multicenter allergy study since their birth in 1990. As part of a sub-project investigating the development of the allergic in childhood, which was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation), the working group was for the first time also able to examine the data using nanotechnological methods at a molecular level. Hitherto in current allergy diagnostics, against a natural grass extract (a mixture of several allergenic modules) are detected. In this study, a so-called allergen chip was used, which enables antibodies against individual, microscopically small pollen molecules to be made visible and identified.

The research findings of the study show that the special proteins used by the body's immune system to repel invading pathogens, the so-called IgE antibodies, can be developed years before the first symptoms occur. These antibodies can be identified in children even at pre-school age. They represent key that indicate whether a child will suffer from a grass pollen allergy. In addition, a single pollen molecule was identified, the so-called Phl p 1, which in most cases stands at the head of the reaction chain: although the children affected initially only develop a few IgE antibodies to a specific type of pollen, they subsequently create other IgE antibodies to other pollen molecules as well. The immune system responds to an increasing number of different allergens, often before allergic symptoms are recognisable. Methods of treatment, such as hypo- or desensitisation, do not invariably lead to success. One reason for this might be that the therapy does not start until the children affected are already suffering from the allergy, and the body has already created antibodies against a range of different allergen molecules.

"The detection of lgE antibodies at an early stage could enhance the prospects of a successful therapeutic and even preventative intervention", according to a confident Laura Hatzler, the first author of the study. "The investigation of allergen-specific, immunological treatments at early stages of the disease process in childhood represents the next step in our research."

Explore further: 'Apple allergy': Symptoms could be significantly reduced with apple-allergen treatment

More information: Hatzler, Laura et al. 2012. Molecular spreading and predictive value of preclinical IgE response to Phleum pratense in children with hay fever. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Volume 130, 827-1016. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2012.05.053

Related Stories

'Apple allergy': Symptoms could be significantly reduced with apple-allergen treatment

October 19, 2012
The food allergy associated with birch pollen is a condition commonly found alongside an allergy to birch pollen. Sufferers are plagued by swelling and reddening or itching in the mouth and throat area, for example when they ...

Probiotic drinks help against allergies

June 16, 2011
Probiotic drinks such as Yakult and Vivit can alleviate the symptoms of pollen allergies, says Wageningen UR PhD scholar Yvonne Vissers. They do this by diminishing the amounts of certain proteins that cause hay fever. The ...

Some pollens are much more aggressive than others

May 21, 2012
Scientists from across Europe investigated the allergic potential of pollens from the three main triggers of hay fever in Europe: Birch, grass and olive. As the Hialine study researchers have found, the allergenicity of the ...

Get ready for spring - hay fever worse in spring than summer

December 21, 2011
Hay fever (runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes) is caused by an allergy to pollen, and most commonly to grass pollen. These tiny grains bring misery to sufferers through spring and summer and pollen levels are often included ...

Antibacterials in personal-care products linked to allergy risk in children

June 19, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Exposure to common antibacterial chemicals and preservatives found in soap, toothpaste, mouthwash and other personal-care products may make children more prone to a wide range of food and environmental ...

Recommended for you

Genetic immune deficiency could hold key to severe childhood infections

July 18, 2017
A gene mutation making young children extremely vulnerable to common viruses may represent a new type of immunodeficiency, according to a University of Queensland researcher.

What are the best ways to diagnose and manage asthma?

July 18, 2017
What are the best ways to diagnose and manage asthma in adults? This can be tricky because asthma can stem from several causes and treatment often depends on what is triggering the asthma.

Large multi-ethnic study identifies many new genetic markers for lupus

July 17, 2017
Scientists from an international consortium have identified a large number of new genetic markers that predispose individuals to lupus.

Study finds molecular explanation for struggles of obese asthmatics

July 17, 2017
A large, bouquet-shaped molecule called surfactant protein A, or SP-A, may explain why obese asthma patients have harder-to-treat symptoms than their lean and overweight counterparts, according to a new study led by scientists ...

Team identifies potential cause for lupus

July 14, 2017
Leading rheumatologist and Feinstein Institute for Medical Research Professor Betty Diamond, MD, may have identified a protein as a cause for the adverse reaction of the immune system in patients suffering from lupus. A better ...

Immunosuppression underlies resistance to anti-angiogenic therapy

July 14, 2017
A Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research team has identified a novel mechanism behind resistance to angiogenesis inhibitors - drugs that fight cancer by suppressing the formation of new blood vessels. In their report ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.