CD300a, Bernholtz – The Possible End to Asthma

The Bernholtz Prize for originality and creativity in practical research was recently awarded to Ido Bazelet from the Pharmaceutical School of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel. Together with Ariel Munitz Bazelet is working on a project named RECEPTRA. The aim of the project is developing an effective treatment to chronic and severe allergies.

Ido Bachelet in his lab (Photo: Sasson Tiram)
Ido Bachelet in his lab
(Photo: Sasson Tiram)

There is a common misconception that allergies such as asthma are not fatal. Unfortunately, the WHO (World Health Organization) states that in the passing year 250-thousand people died from asthma around the world. The WHO expects this number will increase by 20% in the next decade.

Allergies occur when an allergenic substance reaches a mast cell. Mast cells are found in the loose connective tissue and have a key roll in healing wounds and in the development of allergies. Once aroused by an allergen, the mast cell releases a variety of inflammatory substances that provoke the allergy, causing a runny nose, rashes, trouble in breathing and even fatal shock. The infected mast cell attracts other pro-inflammatory cells that preserve the allergic reaction, resulting in the development of a chronic allergy.    

Bazelet and Munitz have isolated a new receptor protein named CD300a. The protein prevents the mast cell from releasing inflammatory substances, stopping the process of the allergy right from the start. However, the CD300a protein is used by the immune system and simply targeting it might cause damage.

In order to overcome this obstacle the researchers developed a unique synthetic antibody that targets CD300a protein only if it is allocated on a mast cell, thus protecting the proteins in the immune system.

This technique has already cured lab rats from four different allergies and chronic asthma. Bazelet and his team are currently working on the clinical experiments stage, hoping to create an effective cure for allergies in the future.