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  • Conversation: Researchers discover new cell that remembers allergies

    • February 8, 2024 4:35 PM GMT
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      Researchers discover new cell that remembers allergies

      Researchers with McMaster University and Denmark-based pharmaceutical company ALK-Abello A/S have made a groundbreaking discovery: a new cell that remembers allergies.The discovery gives scientists and researchers a new target in treating allergies and could lead to new therapeutics. The research, published in Science Translational Medicine, coins the brand-new cell as a type-2 memory B cell (MBC2)."We've discovered a type of memory B cell that had unique characteristics and a unique gene signature that has not been described before," says Josh Koenig, assistant professor with McMaster's Department of Medicine and co-lead of the study. "We found allergic people had this memory B cell against their allergen, but non-allergic people had very few, if any."
      B cells are a type of immune cell that makes antibodies. These cells help fight off infections but can also cause allergies.
      "Let's say you're allergic to peanuts. Your immune system, because of MBC2, remembers that you're allergic to peanuts, and when you encounter them again, it creates more of the antibodies that make you allergic," Koenig says.
      To come to this discovery, researchers created tetramers—a type of fluorescent molecule—out of allergens like Birch pollen and peanuts to locate difficult-to-find memory B cells. Koenig and his team previously wrote the instruction manual on how to use tetramers to locate these elusive cells.
      Researchers further leveraged samples from ALK clinical trialswith tablet sublingual immunotherapy, which allows for sequencing large amounts of IgE-producing B cells.
      Using cutting-edge technology such as single-cell transcriptomics and deep sequencing of antibody gene repertoires on clinical trial samples, they were able to make direct connections between MBC2 and IgE, the type of antibody that triggers the allergic reaction. This provided necessary context, ultimately revealing the MBC2 as the home of allergy.
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