A single treatment giving life-long protection from severe allergies such as asthma could be made possible by immunology research at The University of Queensland.
A team led by Associate Professor Ray Steptoe at the UQ Diamantina Institute has been able to 'turn-off' the immune response which causes allergic reaction in animals.
When someone has an allergy or asthma flare-up, the symptoms they experience results from immune cells reacting to protein in the allergen. 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.
Researchers now able 'wipe' the memory of these T-cells in animals with gene therapy, de-sensitising 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 according to researchers.
They took blood stem cells, insert a gene which regulates the allergen protein and we put that into the recipient. Those engineered cells produce new blood cells that express the protein and target specific immune cells, 'turning off' the allergic response.