When I read about the groundbreaking discovery which could offer a “cure for ALL allergies with a single treatment”, I got more than a little excited:
Severe allergies could be ‘turned off’ by gene therapy, a new study has suggested.
Researchers say a single treatment giving life-long protection from severe allergies such as asthma could be made possible by immunology research.
A team led by Associate Professor Ray Steptoe, at The University of Queensland in Australia, has been able to ‘turn-off’ the immune response which causes allergic reaction in animals.
Prof Steptoe said: ‘When someone has an allergy or asthma flare-up, the symptoms they experience results from immune cells reacting to protein in the allergen.
I fully expected this to be about the mast cell, since that’s where my mind is at pretty much 24/7, but the immune cell Prof Steptoe is referring to is actually the T cell:
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 to ‘wipe’ the memory of these T-cells in animals with gene therapy, desensitising 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.’
Dr Steptoe said the findings would be subject to further pre-clinical investigation, with the next step being to replicate results using human cells in the laboratory.
So while it’s not aimed at those of us with mast cell disease, it’s still a MAJOR advancement in the field of immunology and definitely something to keep a close eye on.
Perhaps Professor Steptoe and his colleagues will turn their attention to the mast cell next?