Triggered tolerance reaction: can allergies be prevented in the future?

Triggered tolerance reaction: can allergies be prevented in the future?

New method for allergy prophylaxis discovered
Millions of people worldwide suffer from allergies. Your body shows an excessive immune response to contact with certain substances, which can be associated with different symptoms depending on the type of allergy. In a current study, scientists at MedUni Vienna have now shown ways in which allergies can be prevented before they occur.

"The results in the animal model are very promising and give rise to hope that it may be possible in the future to prevent allergies before they occur - be it by vaccinating with the body's own cells or using other vaccination strategies," said the MedUni Vienna. In the current study, the researchers succeeded in triggering a tolerance reaction by binding allergens to the body's own white blood cells. The scientists published their results in the specialist magazine "EbioMedicine".

Transplant medicine procedures
As part of their study, the researchers led by Thomas Wekerle and Ulrike Baranyi from the University Clinic for Surgery and Rudolf Valenta from the Institute for Pathophysiology and Allergy Research at MedUni Vienna tested the possibilities of allergy prevention using a method originally used in transplant medicine. There it serves the immunological tolerance reaction for the donor organ. The scientists used the method in mice and populated their white blood cells with the relevant allergens (certain proteins to which the immune system reacts more in the event of an allergy). The effect was convincing. The animals “also remained resistant to allergies,” reports the MedUni Vienna.

As part of the procedure, the cells (white blood cells) are first removed, "mixed" with the allergen and then together with a biological that is known from rheumatology (active ingredient abatacept) and an agent from immunosuppression and oncology (sirolimus) injected the organism, according to the university. Practically like a “Trojan horse” on the cell, the allergen infiltrated in this way slumbers. Upon renewed contact with allergens such as grass pollen, the body is then immune to the "attack" from outside.

Lifelong protection against allergies possible?
According to Thomas Wekerle, the long-term effect of the method on mice awakens the “hope for our vision of lifelong protection against allergies with just one vaccination.” It is far too early for use in the clinic and further, years-long studies are needed . But the researchers see their results as an important step on the way to preventing allergies. In general, risk groups could be vaccinated first of all - for example, children whose parents suffer from allergies, explains MedUni Vienna. The goal would be to never let the allergy break out at all so that serious consequences such as asthma do not occur. Conveniently, a map of the allergens is already available. "You know exactly which allergens are active in an allergy, so you could use it to specifically immunize the cells and make them tolerant," emphasizes the allergy researcher Rudolf Valenta.

According to the experts at MedUni Vienna, about one in five people in Austria suffers from an allergy, and the trend is rising. Frequently hay fever first appears, but this very often leads to asthma and can even lead to life-threatening symptoms, according to Valenta. This makes early detection and appropriate treatment all the more important. (fp)

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