The concept of designing a decoy for cells that may triggerallergic reactions has been supported by test-tube resultsreported Monday by scientists from The Johns Hopkins Asthmaand Allergy Center at the Joint Meeting of the AmericanAssociation of Immunologists and The Clinical ImmunologySociety in Denver.

A group led by Thorunn Rafnar tested fragments of a highlypurified ragweed pollen allergen and T cells from a ragweed-allergic patient to examine the molecular nature of T cellrecognition of allergens.

The researchers used an inhibitor created by Anergen Inc.(NASDAQ:ANRG) of Redwood City, Calif., that blockedproliferation of the patient's T cells in vitro. Proliferation of Tcells from a previously sensitized patient initiates developmentof such allergy symptoms as puffy eyes and sneezing.

Anergen's inhibitor combined an epitope of the ragweed thatmediates T cell recognition of this allergen, and purified solubleClass II major histocompatibility peptide complexes. Thecompound binds and inactivates T cells involved in the allergicreaction.

"The results of this study are consistent with Anergen'stherapeutic approach in autoimmune diseases," said SomeshSharma, Anergen vice president of research and chief scientificofficer. "We have seen our AnergiX compounds inactivate invitro specific T cells implicated in multiple sclerosis andmyasthenia gravis," Sharma said. "As demonstrated by thiscollaborative study with Johns Hopkins, we can potentiallyexpand the AnergiX product development program to includeallergies."

-- Nancy Garcia Associate Editor

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.

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