Australian scientists are experimenting with switching off the T-cell response that triggers allergic reactions, reports Science Alert. 

While previous research has looked into using nanoparticle ‘trojan horses’ to smuggle the allergen past the immune system, and at new immunotherapy approaches, right now, the most effective treatment for people suffering from allergies is to simply avoid all known triggers.

To figure out a better way, Steptoe and his team took bone marrow from mice that had been genetically modified to have a resistance against asthma caused by rye grass pollen, and transplanted the bone marrow into unmodified mice.

“We take blood stem cells, insert a gene which regulates the allergen protein, and we put that into the recipient,” says Steptoe.

“Those engineered cells produce new blood cells programmed to express the protein and target specific immune cells, which ‘turn off’ the allergic response.”

Even though this study only looked at asthma, the researchers hope that the same approach could be used to provide protection against other common allergies — food and otherwise.