pte20240212002 Research/Development, Medical/Health
Scientists at McMaster University are primarily targeting disease-causing memory
Josh Koenig (right) and assistant Alyssa Phelps examine samples (Photo: mcmaster.ca)
People who are allergic to certain foods or chemicals have memory B cells that remember the triggers. For example, if a person with an allergy eats peanuts, they panic and trigger the immune system to react in an unusually violent manner, such as choking. According to Josh Koenig, giving these cells amnesia can cure allergies McMaster University and Peter Seger Andersen of the pharmaceutical company ALK.
Overproduction of antibodies
The researchers studied specialized “type 2 memory B cells” (MBC2) and their properties. B cells make antibodies that usually help fight infections. But they can cause allergies. “Let's say you're allergic to peanuts. Your immune system remembers that you're allergic to those kernels because of MBC2, and when you eat peanuts again, it makes more antibodies that make you allergic,” says Koenig.
“Even though allergies are the most common disease worldwide, how they develop and how they develop throughout life is still not fully understood. Identifying cells with memory is an important advance and an important factor in our understanding of allergy and how treatments should be,” stresses Seger Andersen.
Two therapeutic approaches in perspective
“We have two potential therapeutic approaches to treating allergies. The first is to target these MBC2s and eliminate them in people with allergies. The other option is to change their function and make them do something that's ultimately not harmful,” says Kelly Bruton. Stanford University Doing research.