NEWS & MEDIA

Publish Date: 
Thursday, June 8, 2017 - 12:30

Gene therapy could ‘turn off’ severe allergies

A/Prof Ray Steptoe and his team are developing novel approaches to allergy and asthma treatments using gene therapy - engineered cells that produce new blood cells, targeting specific immune cells, ‘turning off’ the allergic response.”  The eventual goal is a single injected gene therapy, replacing short-term treatments that target allergy symptoms with varying degrees of effectiveness.

> Click here to read the article on the UQ Website
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> Click here to read the article on IFL Science
> Click here to read the published paper in JCI Insight

A single treatment giving life-long protection from severe allergies such as asthma could be made possible by immunology research at The University of Queensland.

A team led by Associate Professor Ray Steptoe at the UQ Diamantina Institute has been able to ‘turn-off’ the immune response which causes allergic reaction in animals.

“When someone has an allergy or asthma flare-up, the symptoms they experience results from immune cells reacting to protein in the allergen,” Professor Steptoe said.

“The challenge in asthma and allergies is that these immune cells, known as T-cells, develop a form of immune ‘memory’ and become very 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.

“Our work used an experimental asthma allergen, but this research could be applied to treat those who have severe allergies to peanuts, bee venom, shell fish and other substances.”

Dr Steptoe said the findings would be subject to further pre-clinical investigation, with the next step being to replicate results using human cells in the laboratory.”

“We take blood stem cells, insert a gene which regulates the allergen protein and we put that into the recipient.

Media: Associate Professor Ray Steptoe, r.steptoe@uq.edu.au; Kim Lyell, k.lyell@uq.edu.au, 0427 530 647.

Click here to read the article on the UQ Website
Click here to donate to support this research
Click here to read the article on IFL Science
Click here to read the published paper in JCI Insight

“Kids with peanut allergies, for instance, could go to school without any fear of being contaminated from other kids’ food,” Professor Steptoe said in a video describing the findings.