Gene Therapy Could 'Turn-Off' Allergies, Asthma, A New Study Reveals

First Posted: Jun 05, 2017 05:10 AM EDT

Scientists discovered a way to "turn off" the immune response that triggers allergic reaction using a gene therapy through a single injection. The study was tested and conducted involving mice.

The findings of the study were printed in the journal JCI Insight. The study was led by researchers from the University of Queensland. The team has used blood stem cells engineered with a gene that focuses on immune cells, according to New Atlas.

Professor Ray Steptoe, the lead author of the study from the UQ Diamantina Institute, said that they take blood stem cells, insert a gene that regulates the allergen protein and they put that into the recipient. He further explained that those engineered cells generate new blood cells that express the protein and target immune cells and "turning off" the allergic response.

Professor Steptoe elaborated that when an individual has an allergy and asthma flare-up, the symptoms could make the immune cells react to the protein in the allergen. These immune cells called T-cells produce a form of immune memory and become very resistant to treatments.

The professor said that they have now been able to wipe the memory of these T-cells in animals using the gene therapy. The team used an experimental asthma allergen. On the other hand, this study could be applied to cure those people with severe allergies to bee venom, peanuts, shellfish and other substances.

The scientists' goal is to use a single injected therapy to replace short-term treatments for allergy symptoms. Professor Steptoe said that they are working on making it simpler and safer to that it could be utilized a wide cross-section of affected individuals, as noted by Science Daily.

It will take five years more to work on this study before there could be the human clinical trial. On the other hand, asthma and other severe allergic responses could be eliminated with a single treatment with this therapy within 10 or 15 years. 

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