Commercialization of the First Preventative Solution for Severe Allergic Reactions

Student: Constanza Lengerich, 2016-2017

Sponsor: Prof. Basar Bilgicer, Engineering, Notre Dame, IN

The allergic reaction is an immune reaction to different compounds, such as those in food and drugs, that can cause symptoms from harmless skin irritation to a life-threatening anaphylaxic reaction. In the US, 1.6% of the population is at risk for an allergy mediated anaphylaxis response, and these reactions account for over 300,000 emergency room visits per year. To date, there are no FDA approved preventative treatments for allergic reactions. Drugs are only available to treat allergy symptoms, and severe anaphylaxis reactions only respond to epinephrine. The allergic reactions occur when mast cells bind to the allergen protein regions, called epitopes, through IgE antibodies, causing the cells to release inflammatory cytokines. Patient’s have an specific sensitivity to a set of epitopes alone and in combination, which can cause different allergic reactions. Basar Bilgicer and his team have developed the first preventative solution for allergy reactions. The nanoallergens, which are liposomal nanoparticles that have been engineered to display allergen epitope peptides on the surface in a multivalent fashion, can provide an accurate and effective evaluation of epitopes alone and in combination in their ability to trigger allergic responses. This information is used to create a personalized inhibitor, based upon the patient’s epitope reactivity.