Scientists have confirmed the first case of food allergies being transferred from one person to another via a bone marrow transplant.
A 46-year-old U.K. man needed a bone marrow transplant and his sister was a match. Everything went smoothly but he experienced an allergic reaction to kiwi fruit after the procedure. He’d never had an issue eating kiwi before, but his sister was allergic to them.
Bone marrow is where most of your body’s blood cells are formed. In fact, a bone marrow transplant can even change your blood type after a few weeks or months living with donor cells.
Scientists examined the source of the allergic-to-kiwi cells in the man’s body, and sure enough they originated in the cells from his sister. The allergy was officially transferred through the bone marrow transplant, and the study authors say their method of testing the cells could be useful in further research.
Of course, it’s much better when this works in the opposite way. In 2013, a 1o-year-old boy was cured of his peanut allergy after undergoing a bone marrow transplant for leukemia. The donor did not have any known allergies, and the child no longer reacted to peanuts after the transplant.
Steven Weiss, MD, Ph.D., ACAAI fellow and study author, said food allergies are associated with the body’s abnormal production of high specific IgE levels.
“This case indicates that genetic modification during the early stages of immune cell development in bone marrow may play a large role in causing allergy.”
Healthy marrow = healthy cells = no more food allergies? You bet we’re interested to see what comes out of these discoveries …