- Press Release Distribution

McMaster and ALK researchers discover new cell that remembers allergies

( Researchers with McMaster University and Denmark-based pharmaceutical company ALK-Abello A/S have made a groundbreaking discovery: a new cell that remembers allergies.

The discovery gives scientists and researchers a new target in treating allergies and could lead to new therapeutics. The research, published in Science Translational Medicine on Feb. 7, 2024, coins the brand-new cell as a type-2 memory B cell (MBC2).

“We’ve discovered a type of memory B cell that had unique characteristics and a unique gene signature that has not been described before,” says Josh Koenig, assistant professor with McMaster’s Department of Medicine and co-lead of the study. “We found allergic people had this memory B cell against their allergen, but non-allergic people had very few, if any.”

B cells are a type of immune cell that makes antibodies. These cells help fight off infections but can also cause allergies.

“Let’s say you’re allergic to peanuts. Your immune system, because of MBC2, remembers that you're allergic to peanuts, and when you encounter them again, it creates more of the antibodies that make you allergic,” Koenig says.

To come to this discovery, researchers created tetramers – a type of fluorescent molecule – out of allergens like Birch pollen and peanuts to locate difficult-to-find memory B cells. Koenig and his team previously wrote the instruction manual on how to use tetramers to locate these elusive cells.

Researchers further leveraged samples from ALK clinical trials with tablet sublingual immunotherapy which allows for sequencing large amounts of IgE producing B cells. Using cutting-edge technology such as single cell transcriptomics and deep sequencing of antibody gene repertoires on clinical trial samples, they were able to make direct connections between MBC2 and IgE, the type of antibody that triggers the allergic reaction. This provided necessary context ultimately revealing the MBC2 as the home of allergy.

"Even though allergies are the most prevalent disease worldwide, it is still not fully understood how allergy occurs and evolves into a life-long condition. Finding the cells that hold IgE memory is a key step forward and a game-changer in our understanding of what causes allergy and how treatment, such as allergy immunotherapy, can modify the disease,” says Peter Sejer Andersen, senior vice-president and head of research at ALK. Sejer Andersen co-led the study with Koenig.

"We are very excited about this finding and grateful to the team at McMaster University for an excellent and productive collaboration.”  

The discovery of MBC2 gives scientists and researchers a new target in treating allergies and could lead to new therapeutics.

“The discovery really pinpoints two potential therapeutic approaches we might be able to take,” says Kelly Bruton, who co-led the research alongside Koenig when she was a PhD student at McMaster. Bruton is now a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University.

“The first is targeting those MBC2s and eliminating them from an allergic person. The other option could involve changing their function and have them do something that’s not going to be ultimately harmful when the individual is exposed to the allergen.”

Further work will be needed to better understand and ultimately create therapeutics, but the discovery of MBC2s offers new hope for those affected by food allergies.

“These are the types of discoveries that you really need to make in order to develop the right therapeutics to block the right cells to stop the disease," Koenig says.

The research was also co-led by Niels Peter Knudsen and Allyssa Phelps. Manel Jordana, a professor of medicine at McMaster, is also cited by Koenig as being integral to the discovery.

Funding for the research was provided by the Schroeder Allergy and Immunology Research Institute, Food Allergy Canada, ALK Abelló A/S, the Zych Family, the Satov Family, the Canadian Allergy Asthma and Immunology Foundation, and the Cancer Research Institute Irvington Postdoctoral Fellowship.


To arrange an interview with Josh Koenig, you can contact him directly by email, at You can find a photo of Koenig, here.  

For an interview with Peter Sejer Andersen, contact Maiken Riise Andersen, communications director, and head of media relations with ALK by email, at or by phone at +45 50 54 14 34. Please note they are in the CET time zone.

To obtain an embargoed copy of the study, please contact

If you need any other assistance, contact Adam Ward, media relations officer with McMaster’s Faculty of Health Sciences at



England’s oldest became frailer during austerity, study suggests

The speed at which England’s oldest adults became frailer accelerated during the UK Government’s era of austerity politics, according to a new study.  Researchers say that the rate of frailty in people aged 85 and over in England increased 50 per cent faster per year between 2012 and 2018 compared with the preceding eight years.   The impact of frailty – a decline in a person’s mental and physical resilience to illness and injury – on the oldest in society must be considered should any new austerity measures be introduced, experts warn.    The study, led by researchers from the University of Edinburgh’s ...

Exceptionally rapid tooth development and ontogenetic changes in the feeding apparatus of the Komodo dragon

Exceptionally rapid tooth development and ontogenetic changes in the feeding apparatus of the Komodo dragon
Tea Maho and Robert R. Reisz University of Toronto Mississauga   Kilat, the largest living lizard at the Toronto Metro Zoo, like other members of his species (Varanus komodoensis), truly deserves to be called the Komodo Dragon! Its impressive size and the way it looks at you and tracks your every move makes you realize that it is an apex predator, not unlike a ferocious theropod dinosaur. So, it is not surprising when you look around at his enclosure to find that there are shed teeth sparkling on the ground, a common find when ...

Scientists develop a low-cost device to make cell therapy safer

Scientists develop a low-cost device to make cell therapy safer
CAMBRIDGE, MA – A tiny device built by scientists at MIT and the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology could be used to improve the safety and effectiveness of cell therapy treatments for patients suffering from spinal cord injuries. In cell therapy, clinicians create what are known as induced pluripotent stem cells by reprogramming some skin or blood cells taken from a patient. To treat a spinal cord injury, they would coax these pluripotent stem cells to become progenitor cells, which are destined to differentiate into spinal cord cells. These progenitors are then transplanted back into ...

Getting to know the ​‘ghost’ inside batteries

An Argonne team developing materials for solid-state batteries took an unexpected detour to investigate tiny short-circuits known as soft-shorts. Their insights will benefit battery researchers around the world. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have shed important new light on what the early signs of battery failure look like. Their study — which relates to a condition called soft-shorts — provides the research community with valuable knowledge and methods to design better electric vehicle (EV) batteries. The Argonne team’s research focused on all-solid batteries with anodes (negative electrodes) ...

Predicting neurodevelopmental disease in children from parent’s traits

Predicting neurodevelopmental disease in children from parent’s traits
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Predicting the trajectory of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders like autism or schizophrenia is difficult because they can be influenced by many different genetic and environmental factors. A new study, led by Penn State researchers, demonstrates that evaluating parents for their manifestation of traits of these disorders — and related diseases like depression and anxiety — may provide a more accurate method of predicting the prevalence, and potentially severity, of the disorders in affected children than screening for genetic variants alone. This is likely due, at least in part, to genetic variants the parents transmit to the ...

New species of 65 million year old fossil shark discovered in Alabama, USA

New species of 65 million year old fossil shark discovered in Alabama, USA
Birmingham, AL (February 7, 2024) – Today, a team of scientists is pleased to announce the discovery of a new fossil shark species from Alabama, USA. The team is led by Jun Ebersole, Director of Collections, McWane Science Center, Birmingham, AL, David Cicimurri, Curator of Natural History, South Carolina State Museum in Columbia, and T. Lynn Harrell, Jr., Paleontologist and Fossil Collections Curator at the Geological Survey of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The shark is a new species of Palaeohypotodus (pronounced pale-ee-oh-hype-oh-toe-duss), which means “ancient small-eared tooth,” in reference to the small needle-like fangs present on the sides of the teeth. It has ...

Time to treatment with intravenous thrombolysis before thrombectomy and functional outcomes in acute ischemic stroke

About The Study: In patients presenting at thrombectomy-capable stroke centers, the benefit associated with intravenous thrombolysis (IVT) plus thrombectomy versus thrombectomy alone was time dependent and statistically significant only if the time from symptom onset to expected administration of IVT was short in this individual participant data meta-analysis (n = 2,313) of six randomized clinical trials.  Authors: Johannes Kaesmacher, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Bern in Bern, Switzerland, is the corresponding author. To access the embargoed study: Visit ...

Many hookah manufacturers have not complied with FDA-mandated nicotine warning labels

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 7, 2024 Contact: Jillian McKoy, Michael Saunders, ## Many Hookah Manufacturers Have Not Complied with FDA-Mandated Nicotine Warning Labels Only half of the hookah packages assessed in a new study included the required nicotine warnings, two years after this federal regulation was implemented to alert consumers about the health risks of nicotine addiction. Since August 2018, the US Food & Drug Administration has mandated that all hookah (also known as waterpipe tobacco or shisha) manufacturers include a nicotine warning ...

Endovascular thrombectomy for large ischemic stroke across ischemic injury and penumbra profiles

About The Study: In this exploratory analysis of a randomized clinical trial of 336 patients with extensive ischemic stroke, endovascular thrombectomy (EVT) improved clinical outcomes across a wide spectrum of infarct volumes, although enrollment of patients with minimal penumbra volume was low. In EVT-treated patients, clinical outcomes worsened as presenting ischemic injury estimates increased.  Authors: Amrou Sarraj, M.D., of University Hospital Cleveland Medical Center—Case Western ...

Apixaban to prevent recurrence after cryptogenic stroke in patients with atrial cardiopathy

About The Study: In patients with cryptogenic stroke and evidence of atrial cardiopathy without atrial fibrillation, oral anticoagulant therapy with apixaban did not significantly reduce recurrent stroke risk compared with aspirin in this randomized clinical trial that included 1,015 participants.  Authors: Hooman Kamel, M.D., of Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, is the corresponding author. To access the embargoed study: Visit our For The Media website at this link (doi:10.1001/jama.2023.27188) Editor’s Note: Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions ...


Drug limits dangerous reactions to allergy-triggering foods, Stanford Medicine-led study of kids finds

Measuring the properties of light: Scientists realise new method for determining quantum states

For faster access to gene and cell therapies in Europe

Scientists deliver portable total chemical analysis without pumps and tubes

A very long, winding road: Developing novel therapeutics for metastatic tumors

Unlocking health: How In Our DNA SC is pioneering genetic screening for South Carolinians

Down Under Demo: ONR touts additive manufacturing tech at Australian event

Study shows benralizumab is effective as a treatment for eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis, a rare form of vasculitis

Researchers identify new choice of therapy for rare autoimmune disease EGPA

Powering nitrogenases

NJIT marketing experts measure brain waves and skin current to predict emotions

Babies use immune system differently, but efficiently

Cloud clustering causes more extreme rain

Mindfulness at work protects against stress and burnout

Scientists closer to solving mysteries of universe after measuring gravity in quantum world

Revolutionary brain stimulation technique shows promise for treating brain disorders

Global warming increases the diversity of active soil bacteria

Patient mindset training helps care teams

Dual-energy harvesting device could power future wireless medical implants

Study: ‘Hexaplex’ vaccine aims to boost flu protection

New structural insights could lead to mechanical enhancement in alloys

New research challenges conventional picture of Parkinson's disease

Dairy cows fed botanicals-supplemented diets use energy more efficiently

Aston University receives nearly half a million pounds to create safer and greener batteries

New study shows glycan sugar coating of IgG immunoglobulin can predict cardiovascular health

Sir Peter Rigby appointed as honorary chair of Aston University’s new Digital Futures Institute

Yale School of Medicine receives a $575,000 grant from PolyBio Research Foundation to fund long COVID research

Common plant could help reduce food insecurity, researchers find

Innovative chemotherapy approach shows promise against lung cancer

Encoding computers of the future

[] McMaster and ALK researchers discover new cell that remembers allergies