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Experimental therapy stops allergic reactions in mice

The other receptor molecule is like a brake, explains senior author Andrew Saxon, M.D., director of the UCLA Asthma, Allergy, and Immunologic Disease Center. However, in this case, the brake only works when coupled with the gas pedal. Therefore, we constructed GE2 so that one end steps on the brake while the other end binds to the gas pedal. This cross-linking slows or stops the allergic reaction.

In laboratory tests on human mast cells and basophils, the higher the dose of GE2, the less histamine the cells released when stimulated by an allergen. In tests on mice, GE2 significantly reduced allergic skin reactions.

Although many more lab and animal studies will be necessary before this approach can be tested in humans, it has the potential to treat such diseases as allergic asthma, allergic rhinitis, chronic urticaria (hives), angioedema (hive-like swelling) and even the sometimes deadly anaphylaxis brought on by allergic reactions to certain foods such as peanuts, Dr. Saxon says.

GE2 is called a fusion protein because its two active parts are connected, or fused, by a linking molecule. As it is constructed now, GE2 contains generic active parts that indiscriminately block reactions to any allergen, Dr. Saxon says. However, a fusion protein like GE2 could be designed to contain a specific allergen such as a peanut protein and thereby block only allergic reactions to peanut. These allergen-specific fusion proteins could be used in allergy shots to make them safer and more effective: The patient could receive higher doses of allergen in the shot, making it more effective, without running the risk of suffering a dangerous allergic reaction, because the braking end of the fusion protein would stop that reaction.


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Contact: Jeff Minerd
jminerd@niaid.nih.org
301-402-1663
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
30-Apr-2002


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