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NIH selects LIAI for major study on allergy molecular causes and possible treatments
Date:11/13/2007

ounts for one-quarter of all emergency room visits in the U.S. each year.

LIAI researchers will identify the specific allergy epitopes that cause T cells to launch an attack against the allergens. Epitopes are tiny sites on a protein or other molecule that instigate a T cell response. This opens the possibility of developing therapies around those epitopes, Grey said. There have already been some clinical trials which are showing promise with the approach of treating patients with allergy-related epitopes. The information were developing will provide the clinical community with the ability to try this approach with a wide variety of allergic diseases.

Currently, many allergy sufferers receive desensitization treatments, whereby the patient is given increasing doses of the substance causing allergy or allergen over a long period of time in order to develop immune tolerance to the allergen. The approach can be problematic because patients already have antibodies to the allergens, which can cause reactions, and because it is also a very lengthy process. The idea behind the epitope-based therapies is that patients could be given small pieces or epitopes from the allergen that would be able to induce immune tolerance, without instigating an antibody reaction, Sette explained. If this proves true, it could produce the same effects as the current desensitization therapies, but in a much shorter period of time, and without the allergic side effects. You would be desensitizing the cells (with the allergy epitopes), rather than activating them, he added.

Another important aspect of the research is analyzing the effects of regulatory T cells in the allergy process. This T cell type, which has only been discovered in the last decade, appears to suppress T cell reactions to allergens, rather than cause them. We are hoping to find specific epitopes that activate these regulatory T cells, said John Sidney, project co-investigator. If so, we mi
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Contact: Bonnie Ward
contact@liai.org
619-303-3160
La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology
Source:Eurekalert

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