PI: Dr. William R. Henderson Jr., MD
Location: Center for Allergy and Inflammation, UW Medicine SLU
Website: http://depts.washington.edu/somslu/centers/allergy.shtml

Designed Tolerizing Protein Nanoparticles as a Therapeutic Approach to Treat Asthma and Other Allergic Disorders

Asthma and other allergic diseases have become much more common in the United States in the last 40 years. These diseases affect ~50 million people or more than 20% of the population. Asthma alone has more than tripled over the past 25 years and affects more than 22 million people. Similarly, the prevalence and severity of food allergy in the United States are both greater than previously recognized with recent data indicating a prevalence of 8% in children nationwide, including 1% of children under 5 years old with peanut allergy.

The IPD has made recent advances in designing protein-based nanoparticles: self-assembling particles constructed of two separate proteins. Mimicking the shape and size of natural viruses, these designed structures have the potential to serve as potent vehicles to engage the immune system. Unlike standard vaccines that activate the immune system to target a foreign protein, these protein nano-particles could also be used to create tolerizing vaccines — vaccines that inhibit an immune response against a specific protein or allergen.

With these two-component nanoparticles, we propose to generate and test a new class of allergen-tolerizing vaccines. On one component, they will deliver the allergen peptide in complex with MHC class II molecules; on the other, they will deliver protein antagonists designed to suppress B cell signals and/or T-helper cell shifts from Th1 to Th2 class. In doing so, this new tolerizing allergy vaccine would educate the immune system of allergy sufferers to ignore the allergens, thus reducing or preventing the anaphylactic responses associated with food, plant, animal, or drug allergies.