Research Press Release

Immunology: Vaccination protects against asthma in mice

Nature Communications

May 12, 2021

Vaccination against the signalling molecules interleukin-4 (IL-4) and interleukin-13 (IL-13) in a humanized mouse model protects against allergy-induced asthma for at least 11 weeks, reports a study in Nature Communications. The findings point to a potential long-term, cost-effective strategy for treating asthma, although additional studies are needed to assess the safety and feasibility of this approach.

Allergic asthma is characterized by elevated levels of a type of antibody called IgE, as well as cytokines ― signalling proteins released by immune cells ― such as IL-4 and IL-13. Therapeutic monoclonal antibodies targeting IgE, or IL-4 and IL-13, can reduce the symptoms of asthma, but these are costly and require lifelong administration.

Laurent Reber and colleagues developed a pair of vaccines, which target IL-4 and IL-13, to determine if they could help reduce the severity of chronic asthma. In mice, the authors found that vaccination diminished features of chronic asthma such as increased IgE levels and mucus production, and provided suppression of chronic allergic asthma for up to 15 weeks. Using mice that expressed the human forms of IL-4 and IL-13, they found that vaccination suppressed levels of these two cytokines for at least 11 weeks. The authors suggest that their vaccination programme may present a long-term approach to treat asthma, but further research is needed.

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