The therapy centers on a special molecule the researchers designed, a heterobivalent ligand (HBL), which when introduced into a person's bloodstream can, in essence, out-compete allergens like egg or peanut proteins in their race to attach to mast cells, a type of white blood cell that is the source of type-I hypersensitivity (that is, allergy).
"Unlike most current treatments, this approach prevents allergic reactions from occurring in the first place" says Basar Bilgicer, assistant professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry and Biochemistry and principal investigator in Notre Dame's Advanced Diagnostics & Therapeutics initiative.
Michael Handlogten, lead scientist on the paper and a graduate student in Dr. Bilgicer's group, explained that among the various chemical functionalities he analyzed to be used as the scaffold HBL synthesis, ethylene glycol, an FDA-approved molecule, proved to be the most promising.
Mast cells are part the human body's defense against parasites (such as tapeworms), and when working normally they are attracted to, attach to, and annihilate these pathogens. But type-I hypersensitivity occurs when the cells react to non-threatening substances. More common allergies are due to ambient stimulants, and an allergic response may range from a mild itch to life-threatening anaphylactic shock.
Tanyel Kiziltepe, a research professor in Advanced Diagnostics & Therapeutics, adds that "anaphylaxis can be caused by certain food allergens, insect stings, antibiotics, and some medicines, and we believe HBL has a very high potential to be developed as a preventative medication".
While many medicines treat allergies by weakening a person's entire immune system, this approach only disrupts the process whereby white blood cells bond with allergens in the first place.
"It also does not leave patients open to an increased risk for infections or the development of cancers," explains Bilgicer. "HBLs may be most useful in situations where it's not possible to speak to or gauge someone's sensitivity."
"For example, in an emergency, on a battlefield, or in a remote location, doctors may not be able to ask a patient about an allergy before administering penicillin. An engineered HBL could be given along with the medicine and perhaps prevent a deadly reaction from occurring."
In a normal allergic reaction, allergens bind to a white blood cell, or "mast" cell, and cause the release of inflammatory molecules. Researchers at Notre Dame have shown how non-allergenic molecules, known as heterobivalent ligands, can be designed to attach to mast cells first, preventing the allergic reaction in the first place. (Image above: Backbone alignment of IgG, IgE, and IgM antibody crystal structure, including residues of the conserved nucleotide binding pocket. Credit: B. Bilgiçer)
Advanced Diagnostics & Therapeutics—a Strategic Research Investment of the University of Notre Dame—is dedicated to developing tools and technologies to combat disease, promote health, and safeguard the environment.
Basar Bilgicer | EurekAlert!
Newly designed molecule binds nitrogen
23.02.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Atomic Design by Water
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH
A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.
By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
23.02.2018 | Life Sciences
23.02.2018 | Earth Sciences
23.02.2018 | Materials Sciences