“Gene gun” vaccine prevents allergy in mice

Vaccination with the DNA of substances that trigger allergies, using a “gene gun,” can prevent the over-production of the type of antibodies that cause allergic symptoms, experiments in mice show.

The gene gun is a helium-powered device that bombards the skin with DNA-coated gold particles. Because the DNA carrier is introduced directly into the skin cells, much less DNA is needed to induce an immune reaction than with standard injection methods, according to a report in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Dr. Stephan Sudowe and colleagues, from the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz in Germany, used the gene gun to deliver the DNA for beta-galactosidase, a type of allergen, to mice. The animals were then given repeated injections of the allergen to see if the gene gun vaccine had prevented the production of IgE antibodies, the type responsible for allergic reactions.

The researchers found that the gene gun vaccine did, in fact, prevent long-term IgE production.

“We demonstrated that prophylactic gene gun-mediated DNA vaccination represents a promising tool…to prevent IgE antibody production,” Sudowe’s team states. However, further research is needed to determine if this approach also works against ongoing IgE production.

SOURCE: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, October 2004.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: July 9, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.