Scientists getting closer to new treatment for allergies

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Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have been working on an inhibitory therapeutic system for Type I hypersensitive allergic reactions like peanut allergies.

Their research, which has made concrete progress towards a solution, was published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

Allergen-specific treatment

“Our allergy inhibition project is innovative and significant because we brought a novel molecular design approach to selectively inhibit mast cell degranulation – the key event in triggering a food allergic response – which has the potential to improve the quality of life for affected patients,” said Basar Bilgicer, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Notre Dame and an investigator in the University’s Advanced Diagnostics & Therapeutics initiative.

Bilgicer and his group have designed a molecule they're calling a heterobivalent inhibitor (HBI), which attempts to out-compete allergens like peanut proteins in the cell receptor attachment race. The idea is to stop progression of the allergic reaction rather than just endure it with ephinephrine and similar treatments.

In their research, the team demonstrated that their HBI works on animals, and they are now ready to begin targeting specific allergens in humans. They'll target peanuts, penicillin and dust mites first.

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