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Researchers engineer a new way to inhibit allergic reactions without side effects
Date:10/13/2011

Researchers from the University of Notre Dame have announced a breakthrough approach to allergy treatment that inhibits food allergies, drug allergies, and asthmatic reactions without suppressing a sufferer's entire immunological system.

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 ent
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Contact: Basar Bilgicer
bbilgicer@nd.edu
574-631-3411
University of Notre Dame
Source:Eurekalert

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