VIB researchers associated with Ghent University, in collaboration with the Academic Medical Center (AMC) in Amsterdam, have shown that auto-antigens or allergens can be administered orally via the lactic acid bacterium. Based on this principle, which has been patented by VIB, ActoGeniX - a spin-off from VIB and Ghent University - is already developing a variety of biopharmaceutical medicines for a range of clinical indications.
The immune system
Every day our immune system combats harmful substances and micro-organisms that seek to penetrate our body. However, if our immune system is not working properly, we are subject to a variety of diseases. In the case of auto-immune diseases, the immune system no longer distinguishes between our body’s own substances and foreign substances and begins to attack our own tissues and organs. In other cases, the immune system responds mistakenly to harmless substances, such as the house dust mite, milk products, or pollen. This inappropriate immune system reaction to contact with such substances (allergens) is called an allergy. Today, 20% of the European population suffers from an allergy, which is twice as many sufferers compared to 15 years ago.
Lactococcus as supplier of remedies
In its natural form, the lactic acid bacterium (Lactococcus lactis) is a well-known food bacterium that has been used since time immemorial to convert milk into cheese and yoghurt. In the battle against chronic intestinal diseases, VIB researchers have been using L. lactis as a producer of a drug against gastroenteritis. The initial results of the clinical trials are promising.
Now, the bacterium is also being used to fight other disorders. There are a number of active substances for the treatment of allergies and auto-immune diseases that scientists suspect are effective in suppressing these diseases. However, it seems to be impossible to introduce these substances into the intestine in an effective manner. Pieter Rottiers and his VIB colleagues came up with the idea of calling on L. lactis once again. They introduced DNA with the code for a therapeutic protein into the bacterium’s DNA. Together with Inge L. Huibregtse, a physician at the AMC, the VIB researchers succeeded in having L. lactis produce the ovalbumin (OVA) protein.
Tested on mice
Inge L. Huibregtse (AMC) and Veerle Snoeck (VIB) evaluated the use of OVA-secreting bacteria on mice that were allergic to ovalbumin. By administering OVA-secreting bacteria, which deliver ovalbumin to the right place in the intestine, they succeeded in creating ovalbumin-tolerant mice.
This research demonstrates that L. lactis can be employed to induce tolerance toward certain substances. This innovative strategy can now be developed further for the treatment of allergic and auto-immune disorders. The rising incidence of these disorders calls for more effective treatments with fewer side effects. The biopharmaceutical company ActoGeniX is playing a crucial role in the development of such new medicines. Indeed, upon its founding in 2006, ActoGeniX acquired the complete patent portfolio concerning this technology from VIB and Ghent University. ActoGeniX is now using this technology to develop a series of safe, effective medicines in a broad spectrum of disease areas.
Given that this research can raise a lot of questions, we ask you to please refer questions in your report or article to the email address that VIB makes available for this purpose: firstname.lastname@example.org. Everyone can submit questions concerning this and other medically-oriented research directly to VIB via this address.
Relevant scientific publicationsThis research appears in the authoritative journal Gastroenterology (Huibregtse et al., Induction of OVA-specific tolerance by oral administration of Lactococcus lactis secreting OVA, Gastroenterology, 2007).
Ann Van Gysel | alfa
More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy