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!
Less animal experiments on the horizon: Multi-organ chip awarded
19.10.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Werkstoff- und Strahltechnik IWS
RUDN chemist tested a new nanocatalyst for obtaining hydrogen
18.10.2018 | RUDN University
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz (Germany) together with scientists from Dresden, Leipzig, Sofia (Bulgaria) and Madrid (Spain) have now developed and characterized a novel, metal-organic material which displays electrical properties mimicking those of highly crystalline silicon. The material which can easily be fabricated at room temperature could serve as a replacement for expensive conventional inorganic materials used in optoelectronics.
Silicon, a so called semiconductor, is currently widely employed for the development of components such as solar cells, LEDs or computer chips. High purity...
Augsburg chemists present a new technology for compressing, storing and transporting highly volatile gases in porous frameworks/New prospects for gas-powered vehicles
Storage of highly volatile gases has always been a major technological challenge, not least for use in the automotive sector, for, for example, methane or...
When we put water in a freezer, water molecules crystallize and form ice. This change from one phase of matter to another is called a phase transition. While this transition, and countless others that occur in nature, typically takes place at the same fixed conditions, such as the freezing point, one can ask how it can be influenced in a controlled way.
We are all familiar with such control of the freezing transition, as it is an essential ingredient in the art of making a sorbet or a slushy. To make a cold...
Thin organic layers provide machines and equipment with new functions. They enable, for example, tiny energy recuperators. In future, these will be installed...
Das Zusammenspiel aus Struktur und Dynamik bestimmt die Funktion von Proteinen, den molekularen Werkzeugen der Zelle. Durch Fortschritte in der...
17.10.2018 | Event News
16.10.2018 | Event News
02.10.2018 | Event News
19.10.2018 | Earth Sciences
19.10.2018 | Life Sciences
19.10.2018 | Health and Medicine