For sufferers, allergies can be anything from annoying to deadly. In any case, they usually require extra care on the part of the person with the allergy to either avoid their trigger or take medication to prevent symptoms.
But what if there was another way? Some researchers claim there might be, pointing to gene therapy as a potential avenue for not only helping people manage their allergies, but for banishing allergies forever.
Sound interesting? Here’s what students of pharmaceutical regulatory affairs need to know about the potential for gene therapy to treat allergies.
Gene Therapy for Allergies Would “Retrain” Immune Systems
When a person is allergic to something, it means their body’s immune system mistakes a harmless protein for something harmful. This leads to an immune response, in which white blood cells will cause inflammation in nearby areas. While this is meant to be a protective act, it leads to a number of undesirable outcomes such as a runny nose, swelling, nausea, and other unpleasant symptoms.
With gene therapy for allergies, the goal is to use genetic modification to retrain the body’s immune system to no longer react to harmless stimuli with an immune response. A person suffering from an allergy, in other words, would no longer have that problem. For people with serious and deadly allergies to things like peanuts, wasps, and shellfish, this would be a life-changing development.
Preliminary Research Suggests This Process Has Potential
There is often a gulf between medical theory and practice, but researchers have already been putting the concept of gene therapy for allergies to work, with encouraging results.
Tests on mice have found that it is indeed possible to deactivate immune responses to allergens, making it so that the test subjects no longer reacted to the allergens that affect them. Preliminarily, it’s suggested that food allergies would be top candidates for a more highly developed version of the technique that could someday be used. Trials in humans, however, are likely to be at least six years away, pending further testing and development by researchers and professionals in pharmaceutical regulatory affairs. Entering this career path, then, could lead to exciting opportunities researching innovative new treatments.
Pros in Pharmaceutical Regulatory Affairs May See Curing Human Allergies Is More Difficult
The trouble with animal testing is that humans don’t always respond as well to treatments that proved effective in animals. Differences in immune system mechanisms and responses mean that there’s no guarantee that the particular gene therapy techniques currently in development will work for humans. There are also further refinements researchers would like to see, like making the treatment effective after just one injection, which will require even more research and development.
Completing regulatory affairs courses will allow you to explore important concepts in the preclinical and clinical trialing necessary for ushering new treatments to market. Learning the ins and outs of the process could someday help you contribute to the development and sale of real, effective medicines—perhaps even curing allergies once and for all.
Do you want to contribute to creating the medicines of tomorrow?
Enroll at AAPS today to start training for careers in regulatory affairs!