The effects of ingesting allergenic foods can be very modest for many persons with dietary allergies, but they can be fatal for others. Butyrate, a bacterial molecule produced by healthy microbiomes, has shown promise in the prevention of allergic reactions in laboratory studies, despite being unpleasant to consume.
Now, researchers have described a more palatable approach to administering this molecule, calling it “polymeric micelles,” and they claim that mice with peanut allergy can tolerate them. This medication has the potential to one day treat a wide range of food allergies and inflammatory illnesses.
The findings will be presented at the American Chemical Society’s annual fall meeting (ACS). The American Chemical Society’s Fall 2022 Meeting is a hybrid event taking place both online and in person from August 21-25, with on-demand access from August 26 through September 9. There will be about 11,000 presentations covering a wide variety of scientific issues at the meeting.
A portion of the microbiota in the intestines secretes compounds like butyrate that support the health of the intestinal lining and the proliferation of good bacteria. When these butyrate-producing bacteria are absent from a sick microbiome, undigested food particles can leak out and trigger an allergic reaction.
One of the project’s primary investigators, Jeffrey Hubbell, Ph.D., says that providing the missing bugs to people with allergies orally or through a fecal transplant hasn’t worked well in the clinic.
The butyrate side chains were tucked into the core of the aggregates formed by the polymers, masking the odor and taste of the molecule.
Mice deficient in either good gut bacteria or a properly functioning gut lining were given these micelles to see what would happen to their digestive processes. The inert polymers were removed in the feces after the butyrate was broken down by digestive processes in the lower intestine.
The medication increased the synthesis of peptides that kill off dangerous bacteria, making way for butyrate-producing bacteria, so restoring the protective barrier and microbiome of the gut.