Immunology scientists have discovered a molecule that plays an important role in overcoming the body’s response to allergens such as dust mites.
Scientists working at the University of Nottingham’s School of Molecular Medical Sciences have found that a molecule they called DC-SIGN has the ability to prevent the body from responding to dust mites. This discovery could be the stepping stone to the development of newer methods of treatments of allergies.
Dr Amir Ghaem-Maghami, the lead immunologist on the team said:
“There has been a sharp increase in the prevalence of allergies over the past few decades and allergic asthma among children has reached epidemic proportions in many industrialized countries, including the UK. A better understanding of how the interaction between allergens and the immune system triggers allergy is vital if we are to develop more effective and efficient treatments for this debilitating condition.”
Dust mites which are recognized as the main cause of asthma in several north European countries, act as allergens and stimulate the body’s immune system to produce Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. This in turn causes the release of chemicals such as histamine that sets off the typical chain of symptoms of an allergic response; symptoms such as sneezing, running nose, itching of the eyes and wheezing.
During this study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the immunologists discovered this molecule lying attached to the surface of the cells that interact with the allergens. Further study of its activity revealed that it was responsible for regulating the nature of the allergic response when house dust mites bind to these cells. The researchers say this discovery holds promise for the development of new methods of combating allergies and asthma.