Cancer drug reduces response to airborne allergens

Posted May 27, 2017 by Tim Sandle
A new study, and a remarkable case where a drug created for one disease has been applied to another, shows how an anti-cancer drug can help to relieve the symptoms of allergic reactions to air allergens.
A woman blows her nose in Godewaersvelde  France  on May 18  2013  as the return of pleasant weather...
A woman blows her nose in Godewaersvelde, France, on May 18, 2013, as the return of pleasant weather marks the arrival of allergenic pollen
Philippe Huguen, AFP/File
The discovery comes from Northwestern University, U.S. and here medical researchers have established how a cancer drug developed for patients with leukemia and lymphoma can also prevent reactions to common airborne allergies. Based on the success of the data from the pilot study it is hoped to test the drug further in relation to people with food allergies.
The drug in question is called ibrutinib. Ibrutinib (commercially - Imbruvica) is a small molecule drug that binds permanently to a protein. The drug is used to treat B cell cancers like mantle cell lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and Waldenström's macroglobulinemia, a form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
To treat cancer, the drug blocks a protein inside a cell called Bruton's Tyrosine Kinase (BTK). It is now thought that this protein blocking mechanism helps in reducing allergic reactions to certain airborne pollutants too.
The types of allergens tested in relation to the cancer drug were cat dander and ragweed, both of which are carried in the form of airborne particulates. The effectiveness of the drug was shown using a common skin test for allergies, with beneficial effects noted in less than one week.
According to Dr. Bruce Bochner, who notes in his research brief: "It almost completely knocked out the patients' skin test and blood cell allergic reactivity." For this reason the researcher wants to next test out drugs like BTK inhibitors in relation to food allergies, such as adverse responses to peanuts.
The success of the drug has been described in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The research paper is titled "Ibrutinib, a Bruton’s tyrosine kinase inhibitor used for treatment of lymphoproliferative disorders, eliminates both aeroallergen skin test and basophil activation test reactivity."