The Food and Drug Administration is touting the results of a study that they say can help them combat severe allergic reactions that patients might have when exposed to certain drugs.
The results of the FDA-led research were published in a journal called AIDS. Researchers discovered that Ziagen (abacavir), which is used to fight the effects of HIV, can actually make a person’s own immune system view healthy proteins and tissues as a foreign contaminant. This is because a certain Human Leukocyte Antigen known as HLA-B*5701 can react with adacavir to help the body to identify the healthy proteins for the first time. When suddenly exposed to this tissue, which is very much a part of a person’s body, the immune system doesn’t know how to react and treats the tissue and other protein as foreign.
The FDA hopes that the results of this study extend well beyond abacavir, the administration of which has been known to cause mild to severe and even fatal allergic reactions. By understanding for the first time exactly why allergic reactions of this nature occur, the FDA believes that medical professionals will be able to identify at-risk patients and that the FDA themselves will be able to better determine how safe a drug is. It may also be possible for drug developers to figure out early in development whether a drug might cause a severe reaction in certain groups of people.