SAN DIEGO (May 29, 2012) Adverse drug reactions are a major issue that cause harm, are costly and restrict treatment options for patients and the development of new drugs. A groundbreaking finding by researchers from the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology could lead to a new way to dramatically improve drug safety by identifying drugs at risk to cause potentially fatal genetic-linked hypersensitivity reactions before their use in man.
Hypersensitivity reactions are similar to allergic reactions, whereby the immune system responds too strongly to something foreign that is not infectious or dangerous. This response produces symptoms ranging from mild, such as rashes, to severe including anaphylactic shock, organ failure and even death.
La Jolla Institute scientist Bjoern Peters, Ph.D., led the study which illuminated, for the first time, the specific mechanism leading to HLA gene-linked hypersensitivity to the drug abacavir, a finding that will have widespread importance and applicability to the study of drug hypersensitivity in association with other drugs.
HLA is a gene that helps the immune system to identify if the body's own cells have been infected by foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria. Individuals have many different variations of HLA. In the case of abacavir, a drug used to treat HIV, the majority of people who carry a particular HLA variant, known as HLA-B*57:01, may experience serious, and in some cases, life-threatening hypersensitivity reactions.
"Many drug hypersensitivity reactions are HLA-linked, meaning that they will occur much more often or even exclusively in individuals who have certain variants of the HLA gene," said Dr. Peters, adding that some gene variants appear to be more commonly associated with drug hypersensitivity. "The present system of clinical trials is very powerful in identifying side effects that occur in many people. However, HLA-linked hypersensitivity has bee
|Contact: Bonnie Ward|
La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology