A New Gene Therapy Could “Turn Off” Asthma and Food Allergies

By: | July 10th, 2017

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In a big breakthrough, researchers from the University of Queensland, Australia have developed a DNA switch which can ‘turn off’ our reaction to allergies. Scientists are hopeful that this new gene therapy can provide life-long protection from food allergies and diseases like asthma.

Researchers have successfully used this gene therapy on animals, and now they want to replicate it in humans.

As per lead researcher Ray Steptoe from the University of Queensland (UQ), “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 ‘wipe’ the memory of these T-cells in animals with gene therapy, desensitizing the immune system so that it tolerates the [allergen] protein.”

This therapy works by erasing the memory of the cells which are responsible for causing an allergic reaction. The goal of this therapy is to desensitize the immune system to tolerate the protein.

Researchers inserted a gene which regulated the allergen protein into the blood stem cells and put that into the recipients.

If all goes as per their plan, it will ultimately help in creating a one shot treatment for asthma and allergy patients.

As stated by experts, this therapy is safe and would replace short-term allergy treatments. They hope that this treatment can permanently silence severe allergy responses to regular allergens like peanuts, bee venom, shellfish, and other substances.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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