Peanut allergen–specific antibodies go public

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Science  14 Dec 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6420, pp. 1247-1248
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav3709

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Changes in the human environment and activities over the past few decades have caused an epidemic of food allergies (1). People suffering from allergies often feel that they live on a cliff edge, as the allergens to which they react are potentially fatal (2). For example, tiny amounts of peanut picked up on skin or contaminating other foods can be dangerous to peanut-sensitized individuals (24). Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies mediate the allergic response. They bind to specific receptors on inflammatory immune cells: mast cells in mucosal tissues lining body surfaces and cavities, and basophils in the circulation. These cells mediate allergic responses triggered by specific antigens (allergens) that are recognized by IgE. B cells expressing IgG antibodies have long served as the paradigm for the development of B cells into antibody-secreting plasma cells in the immune response. Until recently, the far less abundant IgE-expressing B cells have proved to be elusive. On page 1306 of this issue, Croote et al. (5) have analyzed single B cells from six individuals with peanut allergy, which enabled the identification of the natural Ig heavy- and light-chain pairs from IgE-expressing B cells that are responsible for peanut allergy. With this information they produced recombinant antibodies, identified the peanut allergen–specific antibodies, and used site-directed mutagenesis to suppress their activity. The mutated antibodies could be used to treat peanut allergy.