A safer way to fight allergies

Courtesy of Zazzle

Current treatments for allergies to pollen, peanuts, etc. work effectively, but are sometimes accompanied by a myriad of side effects or low patient compliance. A University of Salzburg dominated research team developed a novel, low dose method of fighting allergies with lower risk of side effects using neoglycoproteins.

Allergic reactions stem from an overreaction of the body’s immune system to a normally harmless substance. The IgE antibody mounts an immune response of varying degree based on the allergen and person, so the body ends up fighting against nothing. This causes fever, rash, and other inflammatory responses. To combat this, immunotherapy works to desensitize the body to the problematic antigen by introducing larger and larger doses of it. This shifts away from the IgE response and towards the IgG (main antibody involved in fighting infections) response to lessen the allergic inflammation. Also, immunotherapy umbrellas a method of marking IgE associated B-cells (cells that inform the body a pathogen has invaded) for death before they can ‘cry wolf’ in response to the allergen.

The approach used was to bind sugar such as Mannan to proteins such as ovalbumin and papain (making neoglycoproteins), which then bound the introduced allergen and had it destroyed via IgG response without eliciting the allergic IgE response. Ovalbumin is a protein which stimulates allergic reactions and papain is a protein that breaks apart antibodies (such as IgE).

Mice were injected with low doses of an antigen followed by neoglycoprotein to test efficacy in shifting immune response away from allergenic. Mannan-papain and mannan-ovalbumin compounds were shown using flow cytometry as effectively binding the injected allergen. The sugar-protein conjugates brought about a tripled IgG response as compared to the proteins alone and a resulting, lowered IgE response.

The new approach of binding allergens with sugar coupled proteins proved effective in reducing  allergic response at low dosages and bringing about little to no side effects.

Esther E. Weinberger, Martin Himly, Julia Myschik, Michael Hauser, Friedrich Altmann, Almedina Isakovic, Sandra Scheiblhofer, Josef Thalhamer, Richard Weiss. Generation of hypoallergenic neoglycoconjugates for dendritic cell targeted vaccination: A novel tool for specific immunotherapy. Journal of Controlled Release, 2013.


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