Researchers have learned how a man-made molecule destroys complexes that induce allergic responses — a discovery that could lead to the development of highly potent, rapidly acting interventions for a host of acute allergic reactions.
The new inhibitor disarms IgE antibodies, pivotal players in acute allergies, by detaching the antibody from its partner in crime, a molecule called FcR. (Other mechanisms lead to slower-developing allergic reactions.)
“It would be an incredible intervention if you could rapidly disconnect IgE antibodies in the midst of an acute allergic response,” said Ted Jardetzky, PhD, professor of structural biology and senior investigator for the study. It turns out the inhibitor used by the team does just that.
A myriad of allergens, ranging from ragweed pollen to bee venom to peanuts, can set off IgE antibodies, resulting in allergic reactions within seconds. The new inhibitor destroys the complex that tethers IgE to the cells responsible for the reaction, called mast cells. Severing this connection would be the holy grail of IgE-targeted allergy treatment.