Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Peanut allergy turned off by tricking immune system: New approach makes allergen appear safe and prevents life-threatening reaction

Date:
October 12, 2011
Source:
Northwestern University
Summary:
Researchers have turned off a life-threatening allergic response to peanuts by tricking the immune system into thinking the nut proteins aren't a threat to the body, according to a new preclinical study. The peanut tolerance was achieved by attaching peanut proteins onto blood cells and reintroducing them to the body -- an approach that ultimately may be able to target more than one food allergy at a time.

Researchers have turned off a life-threatening allergic response to peanuts by tricking the immune system into thinking the nut proteins aren't a threat to the body, according to a new preclinical study from Northwestern Medicine. The peanut tolerance was achieved by attaching peanut proteins onto blood cells and reintroducing them to the body -- an approach that ultimately may be able to target more than one food allergy at a time.

"We think we've found a way to safely and rapidly turn off the allergic response to food allergies," said Paul Bryce, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of allergy-immunology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Bryce and Stephen Miller, professor of microbiology-immunology at Feinberg, are co-senior authors of a paper published in the Journal of Immunology.

It's the first time this method for creating tolerance in the immune system has been used in allergic diseases. It has previously been used in autoimmune diseases.

The approach also has a second benefit. It creates a more normal, balanced immune system by increasing the number of regulatory T cells, immune cells important for recognizing the peanut proteins as normal.

"T cells come in different 'flavors'," Bryce said. "This method turns off the dangerous Th2 T cell that causes the allergy and expands the good, calming regulatory T cells. We are supposed to be able to eat peanuts. We've restored this tolerance to the immune system."

Peanut allergies often cause life-threatening allergic reactions, called anaphylaxis. Each year there are between 15,000 and 30,000 episodes of food-induced anaphylaxis and 100 to 200 related deaths in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health. There is no safe treatment to protect people from a severe allergic reaction to food.

When an allergic person eats a peanut, the proteins are absorbed through the intestine and can activate a life-threatening, full-body immune response. This includes constriction of the airways, low blood pressure and/or shock and can lead to loss of consciousness and death.

Using a mouse model that mimics a life-threatening peanut allergy (which the Northwestern team developed several years ago), researchers attached peanut proteins onto white blood cells called leukocytes and infused those back into the mice. After two treatments, the mice were fed a peanut extract. They did not have the life-threatening allergic reaction because their immune system now recognized the protein as safe.

"Their immune system saw the peanut protein as perfectly normal because it was already presented on the white blood cells," Bryce said. "Without the treatment, these animals would have gone into anaphylactic shock." Bryce thinks more than one protein can be attached to the surface of the cell and, thus, target multiple food allergies at one time.

In the second part of the study, Northwestern researchers used the same approach with an egg protein, which was to provoke an immune response -- similar to an asthma attack -- in the lungs. They attached the proteins to white blood cells and infused the cells back into the mice. When the mice inhaled the asthma-provoking egg protein, their lungs didn't become inflamed.

"This is an exciting new way in which we can regulate specific allergic diseases and may eventually be used in a clinical setting for patients," said Miller, the Judy Gugenheim Research Professor at the Feinberg School.

Miller also has used the same approach in autoimmune diseases. His previous published research has shown the same technique to stop the progression of multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes, both autoimmune diseases, in animal models. This approach is currently being tested in multiple sclerosis patients in a phase I/IIa clinical trial.

For autoimmune diseases and allergic airway diseases, Miller also is working with microparticles rather than white cells to induce tolerance, because the microparticles are more easily standardizd for manufacturing.

The paper's co-lead authors are Charles B. Smarr and Chia-Lin Hsu, both graduate students.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Food Allergy Initiative.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northwestern University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Charles B. Smarr, Chia-Lin Hsu, Adam J. Byrne, Stephen D. Miller, J. Bryce. Antigen-Fixed Leukocytes Tolerize Th2 Responses in Mouse Models of Allergy. Journal of Immunology, 2011; 187 (10) [link]

Cite This Page:

Northwestern University. "Peanut allergy turned off by tricking immune system: New approach makes allergen appear safe and prevents life-threatening reaction." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111011112801.htm>.
Northwestern University. (2011, October 12). Peanut allergy turned off by tricking immune system: New approach makes allergen appear safe and prevents life-threatening reaction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111011112801.htm
Northwestern University. "Peanut allergy turned off by tricking immune system: New approach makes allergen appear safe and prevents life-threatening reaction." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111011112801.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins