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Peanut Allergy Vaccine Turns Off Allergic Reactions By Redirecting Immune Response

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An experimental allergy vaccine has shown promise in providing protection against reactions that occur due to exposure to peanuts.

In a study on mice, researchers found that the vaccine protected allergic animals from reactions such as breathing problems and itchy skin when they were exposed to peanuts two weeks after receiving the final dose. The vaccine is administered by nose in three doses per month.

Changes The Way Immune Cells Respond To Allergens

Study researcher Jessica O'Konek, from the University of Michigan, and colleagues said that the approach works by activating a new type of immune system response that suppresses allergic reactions.

O'Konek explained that the treatment works by changing how immune cells respond when exposed to allergens. The researcher said that the nasal mist vaccine redirects immune responses, which prevents the activation of cells that initiate and suppresses allergic reactions.

The treatment also works even after the allergy is established, which means it can be used as a therapy for human allergies.

"NE adjuvant-mediated induction of mucosal TH17 and systemic TH1-biased immunity can suppress TH2-mediated allergy through multiple mechanisms and protect against anaphylaxis," the researchers wrote in their study, which was published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology on April 11.

These results suggest the potential therapeutic utility of this approach in the setting of food allergy.

Immunotherapy For Allergies

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Preventions estimates that food allergies affect between 4 to 6 percent of children in the United States. In some cases, allergic response to certain types of food are deadly. Peanuts and tree nuts are included in the list of food that account for 90 percent of serious allergic reactions in the country.

Allergic reactions happen when the immune system overreacts to an allergen, an otherwise harmless protein. Allergen immunotherapy aims to restrain the immune system to tolerate these allergens.

Other experimental peanut allergy immunotherapy currently being tested in human clinical trials appear to improve peanut tolerance in some of the participants. Unfortunately, they come with several downsides.

These treatments do not work for everyone, and adverse reactions occur during immunotherapy. Tolerance is also lost if the required doses of peanuts are discontinued.

Results of the new study show promise as researchers continue working on the development of new food allergy immunotherapies.

"Our goal is to use immunotherapy to change the immune system's response by developing a therapeutic vaccine for food allergies," O'Konek said.

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