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Researchers find cause of severe allergic reaction to cancer drug
Date:3/12/2008

primarily from Tennessee, Arkansas and North Carolina. The remaining serum samplesfrom individuals in Nashville, Northern California and Bostonserved as controls to investigate the geographical differences in hypersensitivity rates.

The researchers found that among the 76 cancer patients, 25 developed hypersensitivity reactions and 18 of these individuals showed a positive reaction for IgE antibodies to the drug. Among the 51 serum samples from patients who did not have a hypersensitivity reaction, only one had such antibodies. In control groups, IgE antibodies against cetuximab were found in 21 percent of the samples from Nashville, 6 percent of the samples from Northern California, and less than 1 percent of the samples from Boston.

Although severe anaphylactic reactions have been reported following treatment with several different monoclonal antibodies, this is the first time a clear mechanism underlying such a reaction has been defined. Dr. Platts-Mills and his colleagues have shown that the presence of pre-existing IgE antibodies to a specific sugar molecule on cetuximab is highly predictive of a hypersensitivity reaction to cetuximab, says Marshall Plaut, M.D., chief of the Allergic Mechanisms Section at NIAID. Furthermore, their research answers an important question about how the local geographic prevalence of these antibodies leads to regional differences in anaphylactic reactions to cetuximab.

Now the researchers are looking for answers to yet another question: What causes a high proportion of the population in certain parts of the country to produce these particular IgE antibodies that react with cetuximab? Research is in progress to explore if the specific IgE antibodies are triggered by differences in regional exposures to ticks or other parasites or to infectious organisms.


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Contact: Sitara Maruf
marufs@niaid.nih.gov
301-402-1663
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Source:Eurekalert

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