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Protein structure discovery lays foundation for dog allergy vaccine

Date: 24.12.2021 

Scientists in Japan investigating the possibility of a vaccine for people allergic to dogs have made a significant breakthrough, identifying the crystal structure of a protein at the heart of the majority of dog allergies for the first time.

Kredit: Robert Markowitz / NASA.The new understanding of this protein has enabled the researchers to narrow their search for protein components that trigger the immune response characteristic of these allergic reactions, drawing the prospect of a vaccine a step closer.

Scientists have so far identified seven types of allergens that drive allergic reactions to dogs among humans. Of the seven different types of allergens – named Canis familiaris allergens 1 to 7 (Can f 1-7) – , the one called Can f 1 found in dogs' tongue tissue, salivary glands and skin is behind the majority of allergic reactions among humans, accounting for between 50 and 75 percent of them.

“We want to be able to present small doses of these epitopes to the immune system to train it to deal with them, similar to the principle behind any vaccine,” says Takashi Inui, a specialist in allergy research, professor at Osaka Prefecture University and a lead author of the study. “But we can’t do this without first identifying the Can f 1’s IgE epitope.”

Using X-ray crystallography, Inui and his colleagues were able to identify the crystal structure of the complete Can f 1 protein for the first time. On first impression, the folding pattern of the protein was very similar to three of the other proteins identified previously, but with some differences in the location of surface electrical charges.





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