Promising cancer treatment targets a rare genetic flaw


It could provide life-long protection from diseases like asthma with a single treatment.

Scientists discovered DNA switch that can “turn off” our reactions to allergies.

Melbourne: Scientists have discovered a DNA switch that can “turn off” our reaction to allergies, an advance that may lead to gene therapies providing life-long protection from diseases like asthma with a single treatment.

Researchers from The University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia were able to switch off the immune response that causes allergic reaction in animals.

“When someone has an allergy or asthma flare-up, the symptoms they experience results from immune cells reacting to protein in the allergen,” said Ray Steptoe, associate professor at the UQ Diamantina Institute.

“The challenge in asthma and allergies is that these immune cells, known as T-cells, develop a form of immune ‘memory’ and become very resistant to treatments,” said Mr Steptoe.

“We have now been able “wipe” the memory of these T-cells in animals with gene therapy, de-sensitising the immune system so that it tolerates the protein,” he said.

“Our work used an experimental asthma allergen, but this research could be applied to treat those who have severe allergies to peanuts, bee venom, shell fish and other substances,” he added.

The next step is being to replicate results using human cells in the laboratory. The eventual goal would be a single injected gene therapy, replacing short-term treatments that target allergy symptoms with varying degrees of effectiveness. The research was published in the journal JCI Insight.