Mosaic Vaccines Are Not To Be Sneezed At

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Science  17 Oct 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5900, pp. 348-349
DOI: 10.1126/science.322.5900.348d

One of the few effective treatments for allergies to common substances such as pollen is allergen-specific immunotherapy. Doses of allergen too small to produce full-blown allergic reactions are administered to patients in an attempt to stimulate their immune systems to produce immunoglobulin G (IgG) molecules capable of blocking allergen recognition by the IgE molecules that orchestrate the inflammatory symptoms. Mothes-Luksch et al. report an alternative approach to modify allergens to produce immune response without triggering inflammation, making them potentially suitable for use as vaccines. A pollen allergen from timothy grass, Phl p 2, was divided it into equal-length peptides, none of which was recognized by IgE-containing serum from allergic patients. Neither Phl p 2 nor the peptide fragments produced an immune response in rabbits. However, a protein assembled from these peptides but in a different order produced a plentiful supply of IgG molecules capable of binding Phl p 2 and of blocking the binding of IgE. Changing the order of peptides stopped the mosaic protein from adopting the same three-dimensional structure as Phl p 2, making it hypoallergenic because it was effectively invisible to anti-Phl p2 IgE molecules. — CS*

J. Immunol. 181, 4864 (2008).

  • *Helen Pickersgill and Chris Surridge are locum editors in Science's editorial department.

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