Detection of Immune Response
Researchers at the Benaroya Research Institute have developed a novel method to quantitatively detect an immune response and monitor the process of immune deviation in subjects. This innovation utilizes flow cytometry to identify, detect, and quantitate the frequency of various immune cell subtypes in samples obtained from subjects, including Th2a cells. The change in frequency of Th2a cells is directly correlated with immune deviation. The method was successfully used to detect decreases in the frequency of Th2a cells in grass pollen allergy subjects undergoing allergen specific immunotherapy as early as 2 months after the start of the therapy.
Allergic reactions occur when the immune system reacts to normally harmless substances in our environment. The most effective immune therapy available to treat allergy is allergen immunotherapy. Allergen immunotherapy is a costly multi-year treatment aimed to desensitize the immune system to the allergens through controlled repeat exposures. The desensitization process involves immune deviation where immune system is re-set such that exposure to allergens changes from an allergic response, mediated by Th2a cells, to a non-allergic response. Current methods used to test the efficacy of the treatment rely on symptomatic phenotype or secondary markers, such as cytokines, for immune deviation. Direct detection and monitoring of immune response and deviation process in subjects undergoing allergen immunotherapy will provide more accurate and definitive assessment of therapy efficacy in subjects.
Allergy is a common and chronic hypersensitivity condition that affects one in five Americans. In the past 30 years, the number of Americans affected with asthma has increased by 74% and allergy sensitivity has doubled. The market for allergy drugs is estimated to exceed $14.7 billion by 2015 in US alone.
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