University of Queensland Associate Professor Ray Steptoe (Univ of Queensland Photo)
University of Queensland Associate Professor Ray Steptoe (Univ of Queensland Photo)

Wiping out T-Cells’ Memory Key to Treat Asthma, Allergies: Study

Researchers form the University pf Queensland, Australia have found the T-Cells which are prime reason behind developing asthma or food allergies can be turned off in a single treatment providing life-long protection.

The immune response in the body causes allergic reaction such as asthma or lethal food allergies and the root cause of it was in T-Cells which have been isolated and turned off with gene therapy.

“When someone has an allergy or asthma flare-up, the symptoms they experience results from immune cells reacting to protein in the allergen,” said Ray Steptoe of the University of Queensland in Australia. These immune cells, known as T-cells, develop a form of immune ‘memory’ and turn resistant to treatments.

“We have now been able ‘wipe’ the memory of these T-cells in animals with gene therapy, de-sensitising the immune system so that it tolerates the protein,” he explained about the new breakthrough in his research.

Those who have severe allergies to peanuts, bee venom, shell fish and other substances can be treated by de-sensitising the immune system in their body to tolerate the protein, said Steptoe.

The team of scientists took blood stem cells and inserted a gene to regulate the allergen protein and injected it back into the recipients. The newly engineered cells extrapolated themselves and targeted the specific immune cells turning off the allergic response, said Steptoe.

The researchers are planning to develop a single injection of asthma gene therapy that is effective across a huge segment of affected individuals.

The study has been published in the journal JCI Insight.

Asthma Foundation of Queensland and New South Wales Chief Executive Officer Dr Peter Anderson said more than two million Australians have asthma, and current statistics show that more than half of those are regularly burdened with symptoms of the disease.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), risk factors for developing asthma include inhaling asthma “triggers”, such as allergens, tobacco smoke and chemical irritants. Asthma cannot be cured, but appropriate management can control the disorder. World over, it currently affects 235 million people.


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