Allergies are the most common cause of asthma. The immune system over-reacts to harmless substances such as birch or grass pollen, for example, forming immunoglobulin E antibodies (IgE). Together with the inflammatory cells in the skin and mucous membranes (the "mast cells"), IgE antibodies are responsible for certain allergic diseases, such as asthma and hay fever, for example, and are also partly responsible for the development of neurodermatitis. Scientists from MedUni Vienna have now successfully developed a technique for suctioning the IgE antibodies out of the blood, thereby significantly improving the quality of life for people who suffer from severe allergic asthma. The "IgEnio" column was developed for this purpose. This one-way adsorber, which has been specifically developed for treating IgE-related diseases, reduces the plasma IgE level by running the patient's blood through a "column" that traps the IgE antibodies – by means of Sepharose beads carrying IgE-binding proteins. These beads bind IgE in the column, thereby adsorbing the antibodies as the blood flows through during "dialysis." There is also a similar absorber for IgG antibodies, for treating autoimmune diseases. In the first study conducted with IgEnio, the MedUni Vienna researchers at the Institute of Pathophysiology and Allergy Research, led by Dr. Rudolf Valenta and lead author Dr. Christian Lupinek, Dr. Kurt Derfler from the Division of Nephrology and Dialysis (Department of Medicine III), and Dr. Ventzislav Petkov from the Division of Pulmonology (Department of Medicine II), were able to show that this absorption technique brings about a significant improvement in the quality of life for sufferers during the pollen season – even those with a greatly elevated IgE levels. The technique removes approximately 80% of the IgE antibodies.
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