Researchers Create Vaccine For Dust Mite Allergies
Richard C. Lewis, University of Iowa
Vaccine reduced lung inflammation to allergens in lab and animal tests
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 naturally switching the body’s immune response. In animal tests, the nano-sized vaccine package lowered lung inflammation by 83 percent despite repeated exposure to the allergens, according to the paper, published in the AAPS (American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists) Journal. One big reason why it works, the researchers contend, is because the vaccine package contains a booster that alters the body’s inflammatory response to dust-mite allergens.
“What is new about this is we have developed a vaccine against dust-mite allergens that hasn’t been used before,” says Aliasger Salem, professor in pharmaceutical sciences at the UI and a corresponding author on the paper.
Dust mites are ubiquitous, microscopic buggers who burrow in mattresses, sofas, and other homey spots. They are found in 84 percent of households in the United States, according to a published, national survey. Preying on skin cells on the body, the mites trigger allergies and breathing difficulties among 45 percent of those who suffer from asthma, according to some studies. Prolonged exposure can cause lung damage.
Treatment is limited to getting temporary relief from inhalers or undergoing regular exposure to build up tolerance, which is long term and holds no guarantee of success.
“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 paper’s first author is Vijaya Joshi, a graduate fellow in pharmacy at the UI. Contributing authors, all from the UI, include Andrea Dodd, Xuefang Jing, Amaraporn Wongrakpanich and Katherine Gibson-Corley.
The National Institutes of Health (grant numbers: P30 ES005605, R21 CA1 13345-01, R21 CA1 28414-01), the American Cancer Society and the UI’s Lyle and Sharon Bighley professorship funded the research.