Peanut allergies are no joke – unfortunately, the severe reactions that come with them are something that peanut allergy sufferers have to live with (and vigilantly guard against) for the rest of their lives. But researchers at Chicago’s Northwestern University may have come closer to finding a cure for peanut allergies by physically creating an immune system that doesn’t see peanut proteins as a threat.
It sounds like science fiction, but it’s just science. According to reports, the researchers created a tolerance to peanuts in normally allergic mice by actually attaching peanut proteins to the white blood cells of the mice. Normally the body of a peanut-allergic person would view those proteins as an invading threat, sending said body dangerously into anaphylactic shock. With the peanut proteins attached to white blood cells, however, it was a different story.
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"Their immune systems saw the peanut protein as perfectly normal because it was already presented on the white blood cells,” assistant professor Paul Bryce told reporters.
In addition to this finding, researchers also found that they could further regulate the immune system by increasing the amount of T cells the bloodstream. Another innovation researchers discovered was that they could actually attach several proteins to white blood cells, indicating that a pathway to fighting shellfish and egg allergies is also on the horizon.
Of course, now the trick will be replicating the same procedures not in mice, but in humans. Until then, curing allergies as an everyday technique is still somewhat in the realm of science fiction. But this breakthrough proves that it’s a very real possibility in the future.