February 24, 2010
Below are advance summaries of select presentations describing NIAID-funded research. The information contained in the summaries is embargoed until the time of presentation.
Findings from the Inner-City Anti-IgE Therapy for Asthma Study
Asthma affects as many as 20 million Americans, but it disproportionately affects children—especially African-American and Hispanic children—who live in inner-city environments. Over the past two decades, NIAID has supported research programs aimed at developing asthma interventions tailored to children living in inner-city areas. The Inner-City Asthma Consortium (ICAC), a network of eight clinical and two basic research sites nationwide, is a critical part of that effort. ICAC investigators designed and conducted the Inner-City Anti-IgE Therapy for Asthma (ICATA) study in which children with mild to severe asthma were given omalizumab, a monoclonal antibody that targets immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody that triggers allergic reactions and inflammation in the lungs. The goal of this study was to determine if adding omalizumab to the asthma treatment directed by the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program Guidelines (www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/asthma/) provides additional benefit beyond guidelines-based asthma therapy alone. Three ICAC investigators will discuss the results of the ICATA study and novel insights the study provides regarding the role of allergy in asthma exacerbations.
Why Bone Abnormalities Occur in People with Rare Immunodeficiency Diseases
Primary immunodeficiency diseases (PIDDs) are caused by inherent defects in the cells of the immune system. Often resulting from inherited genetic defects, PIDDs are marked by an increased susceptibility to infections and other problems that include arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, inflammatory bowel disease, deteriorating lung function, and failure to grow. Hyper-immunoglobulin E syndrome (HIES or Job’s syndrome) is a PIDD that affects the immune system and connective tissues. People with HIES can develop boils, lung cysts following pneumonia, and bone abnormalities, such as scoliosis and minimal trauma fractures. In this study, NIAID investigators examined patients with HIES to identify the molecular factors that result in lower-than-normal bone mineral density and an increased number of bone-degrading cells called osteoclasts.
How Distinct Immune Responses Contribute to Different Types of Food Allergy
Eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases (EGIDs) and conventional peanut allergy both result from abnormal immune responses to food—yet they are distinct disorders. EGIDs are triggered by a food-induced immune response that causes white blood cells known as eosinophils to accumulate in the gut. Eosinophils and inflammation in the tissues result in swelling, which can lead to difficulty swallowing. Peanut allergy is caused by immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies, which tell other immune cells to release chemicals. These chemicals, in turn, can cause the symptoms--hives, difficulty breathing and low blood pressure--associated with an allergic reaction. Both EGIDs and peanut allergy are associated with the activation of a type of immune T cell known as a T-helper type 2 (Th2) cell. Th2 cells trigger the IgE production that results in peanut allergy and the increased eosinophil concentrations associated with EGIDs. NIAID investigators will discuss their efforts to understand why the same type of immune cell can trigger these two distinct food allergy disorders.
Oral Immunotherapy Reduces the Immune Response to Egg: Results from a Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial in Egg-Allergic Children
Food allergy is an immunologic disease that affects an estimated 4.7 percent of children under five years of age and 3.7 percent of children ages 5 to 17 years in the United States. NIAID established the Consortium of Food Allergy Research (CoFAR) to develop new approaches to treat and prevent food allergy. In this study, CoFAR investigators tested the safety, efficacy and immunologic effects of using oral immunotherapy to treat children (ages 5 to 18 years) with egg allergy, one of the most common food allergies in this age group. In oral immunotherapy, a person consumes gradually increasing amounts of the food allergen in order to reduce the immune response to the food, thus increasing the ability to tolerate larger amounts of the food. The results of the study indicate a positive clinical effect. The ultimate goal is to develop long-lasting immunologic tolerance so that, even after not eating the food for weeks, the person can eat the food without having an allergic reaction. Results from this and other CoFAR studies will be presented during a press forum at the meeting, which will also be available by live streaming video (accessible at www.aaaai.org/members/annual_meeting/am2010/). More information about CoFAR may be found at web.emmes.com/study/cofar/index.htm.
Genetic Variants Associated with Eczema in People of European and African Descent
Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a chronic skin disorder associated with dry, itchy skin. People with atopic dermatitis can have scaly lesions that can weep clear fluid on their face, neck and hands and are prone to persistent viral and bacterial skin infections. Severe complications of atopic dermatitis include eczema herpeticum, a skin infection due to herpes virus, and eczema vaccinatum, a skin infection due to vaccinia virus, the virus used in the vaccine to prevent smallpox. Investigators participating in NIAID’s Atopic Dermatitis and Vaccinia Network (ADVN) are conducting clinical research studies to better understand atopic dermatitis and to identify biomarkers for those at risk for the complications of eczema herpeticum and eczema vaccinatum. This ADVN study describes the role of interferon regulatory factor 2 (IRF2), a protein in immune cells of people with atopic dermatitis that controls the expression of a signaling molecule called interferon-gamma (IFN-γ). The results indicate a genetic association between IRF2 and both atopic dermatitis and eczema herpeticum. Results will be described by the lead author of this study, Pei-Song Gao, M.D., Ph.D., recipient of the 2010 AAAAI Outstanding Pediatric Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Abstract Award. Additional information on ADVN may be found at www.nationaljewish.org/advn/index.aspx.
What’s New in Drugs, Anaphylaxis and Venom
Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening whole-body allergic reaction to certain allergens, including foods, medications and insect bites or stings. After exposure to these substances, an allergic person may experience abdominal pain or cramping, break out into hives or have difficulty breathing. During this session, Dean Metcalfe, M.D., chief of NIAID’s Laboratory of Allergic Diseases, will discuss the latest clinical findings concerning the role of mast cells, types of immune cells involved in anaphylaxis and other related allergic disorders and disease. More information on the work in Dr. Metcalfe’s lab may be found at www.niaid.nih.gov/labs/aboutlabs/lad/.
More information about the press events that will be held at the AAAAI Annual Meeting may be found at www.aaaai.org/members/annual_meeting/am2010/press/mediakit.asp.
Contact: For more information on NIAID research or to schedule an interview with one of the presenters listed above, please contact Julie Wu in the NIAID Office of Communications at (301) 402-1663.
NIAID conducts and supports research—at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide—to study the causes of
infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News
releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site at www.niaid.nih.gov.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research,
and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.
NIH...Turning Discovery Into Health ®
back to top
Last Updated February 24, 2010