Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Johns Hopkins researchers turn off severe food allergies in mice

04.10.2010
New study suggests immune system can be trained to tolerate peanuts, milk, more

Johns Hopkins scientists have discovered a way to turn off the immune system’s allergic reaction to certain food proteins in mice, a discovery that could have implications for the millions of people who suffer severe reactions to foods, such as peanuts and milk.

The findings, published online in the journal Nature Medicine, provide hope that the body could be trained to tolerate food allergies that lead to roughly 300,000 emergency room visits and 100 to 200 deaths each year.

The research team, led by Shau-Ku Huang, Ph.D., a professor of medicine, and Yufeng Zhou, M.D., Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, discovered that one kind of immune cell in the gastrointestinal tract called lamina propria dendritic cells (LPDC) — considered the first line of defense for a body’s immune system — expresses a special receptor, SIGNR1, which appears on the cells’ surface and binds to specific sugars.

By targeting this receptor using sugar-modified protein, researchers were able to keep food proteins that would have induced a severe, even deadly, allergic reaction from causing any serious harm.

“There is no cure for food allergies, and the primary treatment is avoidance of the offending protein,” Zhou says. “This could teach our bodies to create a new immune response and we would no longer be allergic to the protein.”

The researchers hope to confirm whether this promising process in mice can also occur in people.

Food allergies are triggered by the immune system and, in some people, can cause severe symptoms or even a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis. In the United States, it is estimated that six to eight percent of children under the age of three and nearly four percent of adults have food allergies, and the prevalence is rising. Because of the extreme difficulty in avoiding all food allergen exposure and the lack of effective treatments, preventive and therapeutic strategies are urgently needed, Zhou says.

In the laboratory, Zhou and his colleagues took a food protein that causes allergies in mice and modified it by adding special sugars. They hypothesized that, when ingested by the mice, the modified proteins would be able to bind to what are known as the SIGNR1 receptors on the immune system cells. Bound in this way, the immune system would learn to tolerate the modified food protein — and the protein would no longer induce an allergic reaction, even when consumed in its unmodified form.

Zhou fed his mice the modified protein once a day for three days. Five days later, he tested them by feeding them the protein in its unmodified form. Another group of mice was not fed the modified protein at all. The severity of the allergic response to the unmodified protein — which in the control-group mice tended to be tremors, convulsions and/or death — was significantly decreased in those mice that had been pre-fed the modified protein. Some still had minor reactions like itchiness or puffiness around the eyes and snout, but none had serious ones. These mice appeared to be desensitized to the food protein, even when it was fed to them in its unmodified form, says Zhou. In this model, SIGNR1 plays a key role in shutting off some responses in the immune cells, but whether this is the only function of this receptor is, at present, unknown.

Other Johns Hopkins researchers on the study include Hirokazu Kawasaki, Shih-Chang Hsu, Reiko T. Lee, Xu Yao, Beverly Plunkett, Jinrong Fu and Yuan C. Lee.

Stephanie Desmon | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.jhmi.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Making fuel out of thick air
08.12.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht ‘Spying’ on the hidden geometry of complex networks through machine intelligence
08.12.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

Im Focus: A transistor of graphene nanoribbons

Transistors based on carbon nanostructures: what sounds like a futuristic dream could be reality in just a few years' time. An international research team working with Empa has now succeeded in producing nanotransistors from graphene ribbons that are only a few atoms wide, as reported in the current issue of the trade journal "Nature Communications."

Graphene ribbons that are only a few atoms wide, so-called graphene nanoribbons, have special electrical properties that make them promising candidates for the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

Blockchain is becoming more important in the energy market

05.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Making fuel out of thick air

08.12.2017 | Life Sciences

Rules for superconductivity mirrored in 'excitonic insulator'

08.12.2017 | Information Technology

Smartphone case offers blood glucose monitoring on the go

08.12.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>