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City scientists patent asthma breakthrough

Wellington scientists have patented a ground-breaking vaccine for asthma. Trial results published today show the vaccine works in mice, preventing inflammation of the lungs and airways.

Click to view original article at stuff.co.nz

Wellington scientists have patented a ground-breaking vaccine for asthma.
Trial results published today show the vaccine works in mice, preventing inflammation of the lungs and airways.

The vaccine is a novel way of dealing with allergies which, if successful in humans, could be expanded to other allergies and diseases. The research, published in Nature Chemical Biology, was a collaboration between the Malaghan Institute and Victoria University's Ferrier Research Institute.
Malaghan Institute vaccine therapy programme leader Ian Hermans said the successful mice trial results were exciting.

However, it would take at least five years of further research before the vaccine could be proven in humans. Malaghan immune cell biology programme leader Franca Ronchese said the vaccine worked by stimulating the immune system to produce killer T-cells, which hunted down the dendritic cells that took up allergens and triggered inflammation. "It's like taking out the generals of the enemy's army in order to overpower it."

New Zealand has one of the highest asthma rates in the world, with up to one in five Kiwis affected. A vaccine giving long-term protection would transform the lives of the 500,000 New Zealanders dependent on asthma inhalers, Ronchese said. "What we hope is that it's not like having to take drugs for your asthma, where you have to take them all the time.

"In our mouse patients we have evidence that it can work over a long time. We can give them the allergen again and again and it still works." Hermans said the vaccine was also unique in that the critical components were linked to "clever chemistry". "It's a much more potent way of stimulating the immune response than to just grab the two components, mix them up and inject them." Ferrier Institute science team leader Gavin Painter said the vaccine could be produced in commercial quantities.

The concept and vaccine structure could also be expanded to treat other allergies and diseases such as cancer that were linked to killer T-cells, he said. "If we're going to have real impact, we have to get this stuff into people. It's really that simple." Asthma Foundation medical director Kyle Perrin said any positive trial results for a potential asthma vaccine were exciting.
"Some sort of vaccination for asthma is the holy grail of treating the disease. Prevalence is going up, particularly in Western countries and we don't know why, so something like this . . . would be of huge benefit."
However, the challenge would be to translate the success in mice to humans, he said. Asthma was also a variable disease so an allergen-based vaccine would not prevent all asthma.

October, 2014 –

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