Local research work identifies cells that cause your allergies, may eventually treat them

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New parents may not find out their baby has a food allergy until they make that frantic trip to the emergency room.

Now, with work done by Dr. Erik Wambre at the Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason, researchers have zeroed in on the T-cells in your body that indicate you have an allergic response.

The cell, Th2A, is now a target for researchers.

It could lead to a blood test physicians could give to newborns, for example, and lead to an immunotherapy that could wipe out an allergic response for years at a time.

“With this (theoretical) blood test, we might now have an opportunity to distinguish between a true allergy patient and a patient with sensitization,” said Wambre.

The work that Wambre and his researchers have been doing for seven years in his lab is being hailed as a breakthrough in allergy research, and his work graced the cover of the latest Science journal, a leading medical publication.

The T-cells he identified only exist in those who have allergies. They do not distinguish between, say, a peanut allergy and a plant allergy, but the discovery is still a huge step forward.




“This provides hope that in a few years, scientists, using drugs, may wipe out not all, but a lot of allergies, because now that we found out how they look like, the idea of these drugs is to only target those bad cells without touching the good cells,” Wambre said.

Wambre's work has attracted the attention of large pharmaceutical companies, but he says at the moment he’s now focusing his team on expanding his work. He is clinically testing a blood test that would find the “bad” T-cells, before a test by the Food and Drug Administration would be introduced to the public.