Scientists have developed a new vaccine for hay fever using sugar molecules that may reduce treatment times and increase the effectiveness of treatments, reports a study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
The vaccine has been successfully tested on mice. Different forms of vaccines such as vaccines for autoimmune disorders can be potentially developed using this method.
‘We believe the current form of vaccination can be optimized. Initially, our goal was to create an artificial production of the proteins on which allergy vaccines are based and to optimize the proteins making them more effective and fast-working. We did that using sugar molecules. In the long term our goal is to reduce the treatment time by half, while at the same time lowering the treatment dose’, says the senior author of the study, Professor Hans Wandall.
Vaccines are available for some form of allergies including hay fever but it is not universally effective. Another treatment option for grass pollen allergy, for example, is an oral lyophilisate to be taken daily for three years.
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The new vaccine in the form of injection was tested on mice and in vitro tests on human cells. The researchers used birch as the test allergen. Several of the allergens — causing for example hay fever — are so-called glycoproteins. The researchers attached to sugar molecules to the allergen to try to improve the effect of vaccination.
‘In the study we show that sugar molecules can be used to ensure that an allergen reaches the right cells in the immune system and increases the intake of the vaccine, improving the effect hereof. At the same time, the sugar molecules increase the activity of a different group of cells in the immune system, T cells, which help perform the functional part of the process. The next step is to test more types of sugar molecules to increase our portfolio and hopefully identify more sugar structures which can be used to further develop the vaccine platform,’ says Assistant Professor Caroline Benedicte K. Mathiesen.
The investigators are on their way to develop the vaccine further so that it may be effective in human allergy patients. Optimization of a vaccine using sugar molecules can potentially also be used to optimize treatments for other diseases. Instead of coupling sugar molecules with allergens, the researchers may simply couple it with different proteins.
The researchers are uncovering which sugar molecules are useful in connection with vaccines — and not just vaccines for allergy, but vaccines in general.
Allergy has become a common disease, and hundreds of millions around the world suffer from allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, with discomforts like colds, fatigue, and red, itchy eyes.
For reference log on to 10.1016/j.jaci.2018.07.030
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