The Cure to Allergies May be in Genetic Engineering
If you’re looking for a possible cure for your allergies you should check out the experiments that researchers from Australia are conducting.
It seems that the scientists at the UQ Diamantina Institute in the University of Queensland in Australia are getting positive results on their quest to switch off the immune response of animals to certain allergens. Associate Professor Ray Steptoe is working with his team in turning off the immune system of animals when they encounter allergens that are linked to asthma.
Allergic reactions occur when the immune system deems an allergen, which is a harmless substance, to be a threat and it releases histamines that cause the reaction. According to Dr. Steptoe the challenge for them was to fix the immune cells that were resistant to medications and other treatments. He explained that when people with asthma get an allergic reaction it’s because the proteins in the allergens cause a reaction to the person’s immune cells.
He explained further that allergies do not abate because the immune cells develop a memory of sorts that make them resistant to treatments. This is the reason why people still get coughing fits or difficulty in breathing when they inhale pollen despite going through several treatments for their asthma because their immune system has developed a resistance to treatment.
What Dr. Steptoe and his colleagues have done is they came up with a way to erase the “memory” of the immune cells thereby making them tolerant of the proteins in the allergen.
Next step: Humans
For now, Dr. Steptoe’s experiment involves animals but their main goal is to help humans get rid of their allergies and not just asthma. According to the professor they used an experimental asthma allergen to treat the asthma in some animals but the structure of their experiment could soon help them devise a way to eradicate other allergies.
He specified that allergies to peanuts, bee venom, shell fish and other allergens could soon be things of the past due to the success of their experiment.
But for now they’re focusing on asthma and food-related allergies.
Gene therapy is the key
Dr. Steptoe’s experiment involved getting blood stem cells from the animals and inserting an engineered gene into them that can switch off the response system of the immune system whenever an allergen is present.
They then inserted that engineered gene back into the animal and the genes will then replicate and then they will prevent the immune system from acting up when an allergen enters the bloodstream.
Dr. Steptoe and his colleagues hope that sometime soon they will be able to replicate their results with humans and with other allergies thereby eliminating allergies altogether.