If you’re allergic to dust mites (and chances are you are) help may be on the way
Researchers at the University of Iowa have developed a vaccine that can combat dust-mite allergies by changing the body’s immune response. In animal tests, the vaccine lowered lung inflammation by 83 percent, according to the paper published in the AAPS (American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists) Journal. One big reason why it works is because the vaccine contains a booster that alters the body’s inflammatory response to dust-mite allergens
Microscopic and ubiquitous, dust mites are found in mattresses, sofas and other upholstery. They prey on skin cells on the body, triggering allergies and breathing difficulties in approximately 45 percent of asthma sufferers (according to a studies by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.)
Thus far, treatment has been limited to getting temporary relief; from inhalers to undergoing regular exposure to develop tolerance. Both of these options carry no guarantee of success and must be used indefinitely.
“Our research explores a novel approach to treating mite allergy in which specially-encapsulated miniscule particles are administered with sequences of bacterial DNA that direct the immune system to suppress allergic immune responses,” says Peter Thorne, public health professor at the UI and a contributing author on the paper. “This work suggests a way forward to alleviate mite-induced asthma in allergy sufferers.”
The vaccine takes advantage of the body’s natural inclination to defend itself against foreign bodies. A key to the formula lies in the use of an adjuvant—which boosts the potency of the vaccine—called CpG. CpG sets off an alarm within the body, springing immune cells into action. Those immune cells absorb the CpG and dispose of it. As the immune cells absorb CpG, they’re also taking in the vaccine, which has been added to the package, much like your mother may have wrapped a bitter pill around something tasty to get you to swallow it. Combining the vaccine and CpG causes the body to change its immune response, producing antibodies that dampen the damaging health effects dust-mite allergens generally cause.
Read more about it here: Researchers create vaccine for dust-mite allergies