Monday, June 1, 2015

New Research, New Hope Part 2 #FAREcon

A Peanut Vaccine

Notes from Dr. Baker's Presentation 

Vaccines produce a Th2 response, through their adjuvant, usually alum. Alum is an aluminum powder that's inflammatory. It wakes up the immune system and tells it to respond. The inflammation and soreness at the injection site is caused by alum.

The concern is that, since alum produces a Th2 response, could it cause allergies. He said he did not think so however, a different type of adjuvant that produced other types of T-cell responses, ones turn off the Th2 (allergic) response are needed.

One of the things they are doing in his lab is producing other kinds of adjuvants, one that produces a Th17 response. Th17 regulates or turns off the allergic response. Eventually, they want to make a vaccine for food allergies. Their vaccine involves nano scale oil droplets. They put the allergen or vaccine in the oil droplets and then put them on the surface of the nasal mucosa. The droplets penetrate the surface and produce an immune response. Using a green marker, they can see that the vaccine penetrates the nose and go throughout lymph nodes as well.

His work so far has been with the RSV vaccine. It particularly has had problems when used with alum because the alum can cause an allergic response to the virus. Some died in the 1960s when they got infected, because the vaccine induced an allergic response to the virus.

His question was: can they produce a more protective immune response and turn off the allergic response using the nano emulsion vaccine. In mouse trials, they had three group exposed to the RSV virus: with the nano-emulsion vaccine, a standard alum adjuvant, and no vaccine. Animals given the alum vaccine had eosiniphils (associated with allergies) in their blood, but no neutrophils or macrophils, The nano-emulsion group had no eosiniphils but had monocytes associated with a Th17 reaction, showing a priming of the regulatory reaction and a driving away from an allergic reaction.

Now they are doing work in mice to try to immunize food allergic mice with the allergic food in the nano-emulsion.

A Little History

A "peanut vaccine" has been in trial before by Dr. Wood et al. It was administered rectally and was not a success. 20% of the subjects had severe allergic reactions despite the vaccine.

Dr. Li et al are also investigating a peanut vaccine. It looks promising but the trials are also in mice currently, not people.

There may be other trials I am unaware of.

My Thoughts

People think that fear of vaccines is a modern issue. However, there has been a fear of vaccines since Edward Jenner first inoculated against smallpox. I don't really want to make this a general vaccine issue, but I will say regarding a food allergy vaccine, I understand the fear of those first parents who had their children vaccinated. 'You want to take something that could kill my child, and put it directly into my child.'

It relates very directly to my fear of roller coasters. In a very general way, I understand the science. I can even explain some of the processes. In the case of the roller coaster, given enough time, I could likely solve some of the equations to prove I won't die.

But, at a gut level, it still seems to be magic.



  1. Again, another great piece. Your format of adding your thoughts at the end of each piece make it easy for us readers to form our own opinions. Like I said before...keep up the GOOD work!