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Peanut Acclimation

February 3, 2014

An experimental therapy to control peanut allergies may induce genetic changes in the immune system.



An allergy therapy’s genetic impact. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.



Stanford University immunologist Kari Nadeau and her colleagues are conducting trials of a therapy to control severe peanut allergies. They wanted to know why it works for some patients and not others. They found that patients that ultimately responded to the treatment made more immune cells, called regulatory T cells, that kept the allergic response in check. Then they looked at the gene responsible for those regulatory T cells.

KARI NADEAU (Stanford University):

And lo and behold, that was the one that you could see differences in, in those patients that were quote-unquote clinically immune tolerant versus those that were non-tolerant.

The genes in the responsive patients had become more methylated – a chemical modification that alters a gene’s function without changing its underlying code. If confirmed, the findings could become a powerful new tool in allergy research. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.