Successful, long-term results reported for experimental asthma vaccine

May 18, 2021
Successful, long-term results reported for experimental asthma vaccine

A unique asthma vaccine has been developed that is able to generate antibodies against the inflammatory molecules known to cause severe asthma. Researchers from French-based Inserm, Institut Pasteur and Neovacs, who tested the vaccine in animal models, report a high level of antibodies in the subjects; the neutralising antibodies were still present even one year after primary immunisation.

Asthma is a chronic disease affecting over 340 million people worldwide. Asthma is characterised by inflammation of the bronchial tubes and respiratory discomfort caused by the inflammation of allergens, most often dust mites – exposure to allergens leads to the production of antibodies such as interleukin-4 (IL-4) and interleukin-13 (IL-13) in the airways. However, an excessive production of IL-4 and IL-13 can be seen in almost 50% of asthma patients, resulting in hyper responsiveness of the respiratory tract and overproduction of mucus.

Blocking the actions of these two inflammatory molecules has been shown to decrease the rate of severe asthma flare-ups and improve lung function. Building on previous antibody therapies, the researchers have developed a vaccine designed to induce the body to make its own antibodies against IL-4 and IL-13 molecules.

The new conjugate vaccine binds a weak antigen with a strong antigen in order to induce antibodies against the weak antigen. In this instance the experimental asthma vaccine couples the two IL molecules with a non-pathogenic toxin. This vaccine is shown to reduce asthma symptoms in experiments modeling acute allergic flare-ups and produce antibodies against IL-4 and IL-13 up to a year after immunisation. This suggests a vaccine offering long-term inhibition of those immune molecules is feasible and potentially safe.

However, cautious assessments over the coming years will be needed before the vaccine can be broadly administered to millions of asthma sufferers around the world. As well as serving as a both a prophylactic vaccine for asthma and a therapeutic treatment, the researchers suggest this kind of vaccine could be effective against many other allergic diseases underpinned by the same inflammatory molecules, including food allergies, atopic dermatitis, or chronic urticaria.

Category: Features, Pharmaceuticals

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