By Kristen Chandler
There are a number of theories about what causes food allergies and why they have steadily increased over the years. While we would all like to have concrete answers to these questions, what many of us would like even more would be for someone to finally find a cure that would help those of us and our kids who have existing food allergies and prevent them in the future. Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada have made a breakthrough that looks promising.
Led by head researcher John Gordon, a group of scientists have discovered that dendritic cell (DC) therapy in mice, when managed properly, reduces anaphylactic reactions to the proteins of egg and peanuts by as much as 90 percent.
Dendritic cells are responsible for turning the immune responses to allergens either on or off. The research team removed dendritic cells from the mice then exposed them to either egg or peanut protein, depending on their allergies. Then, they injected the cells, along with a mediator cell for tolerance, back into the mice. The hope was that the altered cells, along with the mediator, would trigger a signal to reverse the immune system’s response to existing allergens and turn off the remaining reactive cells in the body. After the cells were injected back into the mice, they were then exposed to their allergen, and the scientists observed that there were few to no reactions.
The full study and results were published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in late October of 2016.
Keep in mind that these results were for mice, not humans. However, this is the first time anyone has successfully reversed food sensitivities or allergies. (In 2010, Gordon and his team were able reverse asthmatic reactions in human cells contained in a test tube.) With approval from Health Canada, they could begin human trials as soon as a year from now.
Gordon, who is a researcher for the Canadian AllerGen Network, will be giving an extended interview in the Winter 2016-2017 edition of Allergic Living magazine. He will talk more about the DC therapy, how exactly it will work with the human cells and immune system, and when this form of immunotherapy might become available to the public.
Since this is a form of immunotherapy, it could also be a potential cure for allergy-related conditions like asthma, as well as other autoimmune diseases This is truly a scientific breakthrough, as the results would be life-changing for the individuals whose conditions would be cured.
Well, this is exciting news! It will likely be a while before it would be available, since human trials would have to be done first and prove reliable, but it is certainly something to follow.
What do you think? Are you excited about this breakthrough? We would love to hear from you!