Stopping allergic reactions before they start: So are the new therapies that are being developed

allergic reactions

Despite being one of the most common disorders, it is curious that treatments for allergies have not made much progress in recent decades. The combination of antihistamines and epinephrine works so (reasonably) well by controlling the symptoms that the improvements have been gradual but never revolutionary.

Here it seems certain that there has not been too much interest in curing the disease. Especially because the immune system has been the great unknown and into carried a very high risk. Now, fortunately, immunologists begin to better understand the “ultimate cause” of allergies and begin to emerge solutions to end once and for all with the allergy itself.

allergic reactions
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Old remedies, new solutions

Perhaps the best example of this relative “clumsiness” of traditional methods is antihistamines. Histamine is a chemical that is found throughout the body and involved in the regulation of many physiological processes from allergies hunger and sleep-wake rhythms.

Antihistamines, which are used for the symptomatic treatment of allergies, inhibit a particular type of histamine receptors. Therefore, these drugs have always been related to drowsiness or appetite and “kilos of more.”

It is also true that new-generation antihistamines produce far fewer side effects than the classic ones. But in general, these are chronic, uncomfortable and non-specific treatments. The big problem is that, as mentioned, research in this field is very risky. Look what happened to the British pharmaceutical Circassia this same June.

The reason? Circassia was developing a drug against cat allergy and in one phase the drug was shown to have a similar effect to placebo. The drop was 67%.

It is true that this is not an extrapolable case, because Circassia is very specialized in immunotherapies, but it is difficult to imagine that this bump would not resonate in the rest of pharmaceuticals of the world. So, what has become of new research on this topic? In what state are we?

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The (not so) new biological therapies

The first steps came from the new “biological therapies.” Essentially, it is therapies more specific targets based on antibodies that modulate the immune response. In fact, they are not only used in allergy or hypersensitivity responses, but also have applications in diseases such as lupus, psoriasis or rheumatoid arthritis. The omalizumab specifically used to handle Type I hypersensitivity responses (mediated by immunoglobulin E); what we usually call allergies.

Although in principle it is a better target than histamine, even from more basic perspectives is easy to work with immunoglobulin E. In the background, we talk about mechanisms that were evolutionarily valuable to combat diseases, poisons and pathogens, but today Pose a great risk to health. And it somehow, evolution is a phenomenon difficult to treat: to give us an idea, there are more than 30 genes involved in hypersensitivity responses.

Vaccines, desensitization and other perspectives

New methodologies explore other ways. In Japan, Atellas Pharma, has now years developing a DNA vaccine for Japanese cedar allergy. The general idea is to use the “immunological memory” cell to reduce acute allergic reactions and help the body regulate inflammation.

Experts estimate that between 16% and 25% of Japan’s population are allergic to this type of pollen and Haru Ichiban, the first storm of spring, the time when the pollen season begins, they live almost like A national catastrophe. But after ten years, still in development.

My favorite is the approach Aimmune. This biotech company is developing a treatment to end peanut allergy. The general idea is to extract the protein that causes the allergic reaction and apply what we might call a “systematic desensitization” : systematically exposing the patient to increasing amounts of the protein to the immune system ‘understands’ that is not a threat.

In the future, “the allergy therapies will be more specific and precise, more adaptable to the individual patient,” explained Stat researcher Andrew Long. And although the doubts are great especially in the process of creating these therapies, hopefully it will succeed and that future is close.