A Groundbreaking New Allergy Treatment
What if you could stop your allergy symptoms from occurring without having to shut off your immune system's functioning? That's the goal of a new groundbreaking allergy treatment that's being developed by researchers from Notre Dame.
The Promise of This New Allergy Treatment
Most allergy treatments today work by weakening the immune system's reaction to allergens, which means that in the process of avoiding your allergy-related symptoms, your body may not be able to fight off other illnesses. As a result, you could end up trading in one problem for another.
The way allergy treatments work, however, will change thanks to the efforts of the Notre Dame scientists. They've discovered a special molecule called a heterobibalent ligand (referred to as HBL) that works to keep your body from even recognizing the allergen. This heads off the allergic reaction and keeps the immune system strong so it can fight off germs as nature intended.
Exploring Immune System Reactions
To understand these benefits, you need to know that when your body is functioning properly, your mast cells (a type of blood cell) will attach to parasites and other foreign substances and trap them to keep them from making you sick. The same mechanism works with allergies, except instead of germs, your body is reacting to an otherwise harmless substance. After being exposed to an allergen, your body marks it as dangerous and on future contact, a complicated process occurs in which your mast cells will attach to it and create a chain reaction that leads to your allergy symptoms.
What Makes This Treatment Unique
The new allergy treatments attempt to stop the process from occurring by attaching to the mast cells before the allergen gets there, thus heading off the chain reaction. As a result, this approach doesn't weaken the immune system like other common allergy treatments, so it prevents your symptoms while minimizing the risk of experiencing other potential health problems.
The researchers believe that in an emergency, doctors will be able to use this treatment option to help patients who are unable to speak for themselves and who could be at risk for a life threatening reaction to penicillin or other medications. By administering the key molecule along with needed medicine, any possible reaction will be averted and the patient will get the benefit of the medicine without the related danger.
If you suffer from serious allergies, you'll certainly want to talk to your doctor about this new approach, which can prevent a serious reaction from become an illness. In the future, this method may replace some of your current allergy treatments.
Just remember that in the meantime, you'll still need to continue to be vigilant about avoiding your triggers and take steps to keep yourself safe. Always carry an EpiPen® just in case you run into any problems.
Handlogten, Michael W. et al. "Design of a Heterobivalent Ligand to Inhibit IgE Clustering on Mast Cells." Chemistry & Biology 18 (9) (2011): 1179. Web. 21 Nov. 2011.
"Inhibiting Allergic Reactions Without Side Effects." Science Daily. ScienceDaily.com, 13 Oct. 2011. Web. 21 Nov. 2011.
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