Scientists have come a step closer to creating a treatment for peanut allergies by studying the antibodies at work when the food sends the immune system into overdrive.
Allergic reactions happen when the immune system misreads afood protein as a threat. This makes the bodycreate proteins, known as immunoglobulin E (IgE), to attack the allergen. The release of this antibody can cause the potentially fatal symptoms of an allergic reaction, including itching, breathing problems and hives. According to the Food Allergy Research and Education, a nonprofit organization, peanuts are among the most common triggers, alongside eggs, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish.
At the moment, patients with food allergies can treat their conditionby taking antihistaminesand, in severe cases,carrying an adrenaline shot to administer when they come into contact with their trigger food.
For their study, published inProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists recruited 16 patients who were allergic to peanuts. They tested serum from the participants blood to identify where the IgEs binded with peanut proteins.
Next, the scientists developed inhibitors, enzymes which bindto other enzymes to reduce their activity. Those molecules, which they namedcovalent heterobivalent inhibitors, were found ...