In a mouse study, blocking a gut enzyme shows promise of controlling deadly reactions.

MONDAY, Nov. 5, 2012 — People with life-threatening peanut allergies understand how vexing the wait has been for a proper remedy, prevention, or cure.

In a mouse study, researchers at National Jewish Health in Denver have discovered what might be a breakthrough in treating peanut allergies. They found that levels of the enzyme named Pim 1 kinase rise in the small intestines of peanut-allergic mice. Depressing or blocking the activity of Pim 1 significantly reduced the allergic response to peanuts.

The enzyme, Pim 1, plays "a crucial role in allergic reactions to peanuts,” said Erwin Gelfand, MD, senior author of the study and chair of pediatrics at National Jewish Health. “As such, they offer promising new targets for the treatment of allergic reactions to peanuts, and possibly other foods.”

Dr. Gelfand and his colleagues reported the discovery in the October 2012 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

In a mouse model of food allergy, the researchers found that Pim1 kinase levels increased in the intestines of allergic mice that had been fed peanuts. Levels of Runx3 mRNA, a partnering protein, dropped significantly in the allergic mice, however. When researchers inhibited Pim 1 kinase, the mice no longer experienced diarrhea and other symptoms associated with their peanut allergy.

Histamine, a potent cause of allergy symptoms, dropped to almost baseline levels after treatment with the Pim 1 blocker.

“Our data identified for the first time that Pim1 kinase contributes in important ways to the development of peanut-induced allergic responses, “ said Gelfand. “Targeting this novel ... axis involving Pim 1 kinase and Runx3 offers new therapeutic opportunities for the control of food-induced allergic reactions.”

read more