New research from Northwestern Medicine shows promising benefits for the tens of thousands who experience life-threatening allergic reactions each year. By introducing specifically modified immune system cells, it gives the body a new signal, which turns off the anaphylactic reaction.
Using mice who were designed to have deadly allergic reactions to peanuts, the researchers attached peanut proteins to white blood cells which are normally a part of allergic reactions. Introducing these modified white blood cells prompts the body to create a tolerance, instead of a severe allergic reaction, to peanuts.
This "fooling of the immune system" treatment has also been applied to asthma and autoimmune disease research, such as Type 1 Diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis. All of these medical conditions have been shown to be reduced in severity by this immunological application (more info here).
So what does that mean for us who have experienced or who know they are susceptible to anaphylactic reactions because of severe allergies? Since this research has shown to provide such beneficial applications, it won't be long before human clinical trials are begun.
One day in the near future, this may be a treatment option given to patients suffering from severe allergies (and perhaps moderate or mild allergies). The treatment feel something like a vaccine or allergy shots (which in its current form contains hundreds of shots to provide its benefit). The white blood cells will be taken from a blood sample, allergic proteins will be attached, then reintroduced to the patient. Who knows? A few sticks then perhaps the occasional booster shot may provide permanent relief from severe allergies!
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