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Red clover and green beans may help treat food allergies – study shows how

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Food allergies, also known as food hypersensitivity, are an unpleasant or possibly dangerous immune system reaction triggered by the consumption of a specific food.

Food allergies have no recognized cause. Allergies that began in childhood may disappear in adulthood in certain situations. Symptoms of an allergic response include stomachaches, hives, and swollen airways. Severe reactions have the potential to be life-threatening.

Food allergies impact roughly 10% of the world’s population, necessitating the development of new treatments.

Formononetin is an anti-cancer compound found in plants and herbs such as red clover and green beans. It’s a phytoestrogen, which means it has a structure similar to estrogen and can attach to estrogen receptors in the body.

Now a new study shows that “formononetin is a particularly good therapeutic candidate for treating food allergies,” according to Ibrahim Musa, a doctoral candidate in pathology, microbiology and immunology at New York Medical College.

The author further added: “Our research also revealed new mechanisms and targets that can be utilized to design future drugs for treating food allergies and other allergic disorders or to prevent severe anaphylaxis seen in allergic diseases.”

When the immune system perceives a food or a component of a food as a threat, food allergies develop. This leads the immune system to create immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies, which react to the food and cause allergy symptoms like hives, asthma, itching, breathing difficulties, and diarrhea.

Formononetin was discovered as a possible therapy for allergies in prior investigations as it reduced IgE production. To learn more, the researchers used a technique known as systems pharmacology. This entailed identifying gene and protein targets regulated in food allergy and mast cell illnesses using data from publically available sources. Mast cells are also involved in the development of IgE-mediated allergy disorders.

The researchers confirmed their gene and protein targets using grown cell lines that are routinely used in allergy research. These cell tests demonstrated that formononetin has an effect on the expression of gene and protein targets discovered through systems pharmacology.

“Our study demonstrates that system pharmacology can be used to predict drug/ compound–target interaction,” said Musa. “What’s more, the mechanism of action identified for formononetin is also important for other allergic diseases such as allergic asthma and hay fever. This suggests that formononetin or other therapeutic candidates that decrease IgE production could be useful for treating these diseases.”

The researchers have created a peanut allergy mouse model that they will use to analyze formononetin and detect any adverse effects.

Source: Experimental Biology 2022

Image Credit: Getty

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