New research is focusing on a bacterial strain that could be linked with and provide a means of diminishing or even “curing” allergen responses. Initial tests with mice in the laboratory seem to indicate that this may be possible.
In May of this year, PeanutAllergy.com introduced news about this idea when a Nobel Prize winner headed a research team along these lines. A colleague of that scientist, Cathryn Nagler at the University of Chicago, was featured in Time Magazine for her concurrent research into the idea.
Her study of mice and the bacterial strain Clostridia was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Two groups of mice were dosed with peanut allergens, one group of which had been bred to be without gut germs of all types and the other sparsely populated with them due to antibiotic treatments. A third group, with healthy gut bacteria, was used as a control. In both cases, the groups with lower gut bacteria levels had far higher allergen levels in their blood than did those with healthy bacteria.
Then those mice were given a mix of Clostridia strains and their allergen levels very quickly plummeted. Other bacterial strains tested did not show the same results.
“These bacteria [Clostridia] are very abundant and they reside very close to the epithelial lining, so they’re in intimate contact with the immune system,” Nagler says.
The team plans to continue their research, focusing on Clostridia.