Structural Study Will Help Develop New Asthma and Allergy Treatments

Armen Hareyan's picture

Asthma Treatment

The structure of a molecule that regulates levels of the key antibody involved in allergic reactions and asthma, IgE, has been revealed by researchers from Oxford University and King's College London. The study, published in Journal of Experimental Medicine, will help in the discovery of drugs to treat these two conditions.

IgE is thought to make certain cells of the immune system (mast cells) more sensitive to allergens, so lowering circulating levels of active IgE is a possible way of reducing the symptoms of allergies or allergic asthma.


The low-affinity receptor for IgE, called CD23, plays a dual role in the production of IgE. It can either inhibit or stimulate the antibody's production, depending whether it is attached or detached from the cell membrane.

Small molecules that bind to CD23 and prevent it from stimulating IgE production could be potential allergy and asthma treatments.

The researchers at Oxford and King's used nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to discover the structure of CD23. They also identified which parts of the molecule are used in the promotion of IgE production