Fighting allergies by silencing immune cells

September 4, 2017
Obstruction of the lumen of a bronchiole by mucoid exudate, goblet cell metaplasia, and epithelial basement membrane thickening in a person with asthma. Credit: Yale Rosen/Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 2.0

University of Queensland researchers are one step closer to developing new medicines for treating inflammatory diseases, including allergies such as rhinitis, itchy hives, asthma, eczema and dermatitis.

A team from UQ's Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging has built molecular switches that can control the immune response to many common allergens.

UQ IMB researcher Dr Abishek Iyer said human immune cells responded to allergens by releasing histamine and other chemicals that cause inflammation and lead to .

"We can take anti-histamines to relieve the symptoms of some allergies, but these medicines don't affect the root causes of inflammation that can lead to chronic diseases, including asthma," Dr Iyer said.

"The molecular switch we have developed turns off an important protein on the surface of human immune cells that controls how our immune system responds to many allergens in the environment.

"This is a new approach to managing a person's risk of developing severe allergies and inflammatory reactions that lead to , but human trials are still some way off."

The team also included Dr Rink-Jan Lohman, Dr Robert Reid and Professor David Fairlie, all from the IMB Centre for Inflammation and Disease Research.

Dr Reid said the team built small chemical compounds that switched off the function of the that triggered allergic reactions.

Trials of the compounds in human inflammatory were found to be effective in treating rodent models of human .

The next step is to use the new small compounds to better understand the molecular basis of human immune responses and design better treatments for a diverse range of allergies, asthma and other inflammatory conditions.

The study was published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

Explore further: Scientists unearth cell 'checkpoint' that stops allergic diseases

More information: Nature Communications (2017). www.nature.com/articles/s41467-017-00414-w

Related Stories

Scientists unearth cell 'checkpoint' that stops allergic diseases

August 9, 2017
Scientists from Trinity College Dublin have made a significant breakthrough in understanding the regulation of immune cells that play a pivotal role in allergic diseases such as asthma and eczema. They have identified a 'checkpoint' ...

Subset of immune cells linked to allergic rhinitis symptoms

August 10, 2017
Have you ever suffered from asthma or know someone who does? It is excruciating to watch them suffer. An asthma attack makes something as simple as breathing, extremely difficult. I have seen this first hand with my mum, ...

Asthmatics could breathe easier in the future with help from an unlikely quarter—parasitic hookworms

October 26, 2016
Asthmatics could breathe easier in the future with help from an unlikely quarter—parasitic hookworms.

Understanding the body's response to worms and allergies

April 24, 2015
Research from The University of Manchester is bringing scientists a step closer to developing new therapies for controlling the body's response to allergies and parasitic worm infections.

Gene therapy could 'turn off' severe allergies

June 2, 2017
A single treatment giving life-long protection from severe allergies such as asthma could be made possible by immunology research at The University of Queensland.

Shetland pony midge study offers clues to curbing allergies

April 23, 2015
Shetland ponies' immune response to insect bites is helping scientists understand how people could be prevented from developing allergies.

Recommended for you

Gene immunotherapy protects against multiple sclerosis in mice

September 21, 2017
A potent and long-lasting gene immunotherapy approach prevents and reverses symptoms of multiple sclerosis in mice, according to a study published September 21st in the journal Molecular Therapy. Multiple sclerosis is an ...

New academic study reveals true extent of the link between hard water and eczema

September 21, 2017
Hard water damages our protective skin barrier and could contribute to the development of eczema, a new study has shown.

Exposure to pet and pest allergens during infancy linked to reduced asthma risk

September 19, 2017
Children exposed to high indoor levels of pet or pest allergens during infancy have a lower risk of developing asthma by 7 years of age, new research supported by the National Institutes of Health reveals. The findings, published ...

Cholesterol-like molecules switch off the engine in cancer-targeting 'Natural Killer' cells

September 18, 2017
Scientists have just discovered how the engine that powers cancer-killing cells functions. Crucially, their research also highlights how that engine is fuelled and that cholesterol-like molecules, called oxysterols, act as ...

MicroRNA helps cancer evade immune system

September 18, 2017
The immune system automatically destroys dysfunctional cells such as cancer cells, but cancerous tumors often survive nonetheless. A new study by Salk scientists shows one method by which fast-growing tumors evade anti-tumor ...

'Exciting' discovery on path to develop new type of vaccine to treat global viruses

September 15, 2017
Scientists at the University of Southampton have made a significant discovery in efforts to develop a vaccine against Zika, dengue and Hepatitis C viruses that affect millions of people around the world.

0 comments

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.