Leukaemia drug stems allergen response in exploratory study

The tyrosine kinase inhibitor ibrutinib can help to block allergic reactions and prevent anaphylaxis, a study finds.

Molecular structure of ibrutinib

Food allergies are common, affecting up to 8% of children in the United States, and can result in life-threatening anaphylaxis. However, there are currently no approved therapies.

In a small study, researchers examined the effect of the tyrosine kinase inhibitor ibrutinib on allergic response in two male leukaemia patients who tested positive for allergy at baseline.

They found that after seven days’ ibrutinib treatment, there was almost a complete loss of skin test reactivity to each participant’s sensitive allergen (cat and ragweed, respectively), as assessed by wheal and flare size, and this persisted when treatment was continued for one to two months. Blood tests also showed that basophils from both participants lost their ability to react to an allergen-like stimulus.

The researchers, reporting in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
(online, 4 April 2017), say that future studies should explore whether tyrosine kinase inhibitors could be used to block allergic reactions and prevent anaphylaxis.


[1] Regan JA, Cao Y, Dispenza MC, et al. Ibrutinib, a Bruton’s tyrosine kinase inhibitor used for treatment of lymphoproliferative disorders, eliminates both aeroallergen skin test and basophil activation test reactivity. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2017; doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2017.03.013

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP June 2017 online;9(6):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20203074

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