About 40 percent of people around the world suffer from allergies, or allergic rhinitis. Now a team from Yale University has identified a receptor protein that can control the immune response to allergens, offering a novel protein target for the treatment of health conditions like allergy and potentially also asthma.
Yale’s research study, “The TAM family receptor tyrosine kinase TYRO3 is a negative regulator of type 2 immunity,” was published in the journal Science.
The mechanism that controls the length and intensity of the immune response given to allergens, like dust mites, is not well understood. Because genetic predisposition is an important risk factor for allergic diseases, Yale researchers performed genome-wide association studies that focused on the role of TYRO3, a receptor tyrosine kinase protein, in the regulation of immune responses to allergens.
The researchers conducted experiments to determine whether TYRO3 played a regulatory role in the immune response. To this end, the team exposed mice to dust mites and parasites as a way to trigger an immune response similar to the one in humans with allergic diseases.
Researchers found that TYRO3 was involved in the immune response developed by the animals, and that it played a critical role in negatively regulating the immune responses. Based on the finding, the team suggested that TYRO3 could be an attractive pharmacological target for small molecules or biologics that activate or inhibit its function, offering a novel approach for the treatment of allergic conditions.
“We identified a receptor, TYRO3, that puts a brake on this response,” Dr. Carla Rothlin, the study’s senior author and an associate professor of immunobiology and pharmacology at Yale, said in a news release. “The relevance is if you know that you have a mechanism that inhibits the response to allergens, and it’s a receptor, you can take a pharmacological approach to push this brake.”
Scientists could develop a class of drugs to inhibit the immune response in allergies or enhance it to fight parasites, Rothlin said.
Researchers also identified variants of the TYRO3 gene that could be linked to asthma, another common health problem. “Future studies might reveal whether it’s contributing to this disease,” Rothlin said.