New discovery may lead to new class of allergy drugs

Jan 29, 2009

If you've ever wondered why some allergic reactions progress quickly and may even become fatal, a new research report published in the February 2009 issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology provides an important part of the answer. In the report, scientists from Queen's University of Belfast, University of Oxford and Trinity College Dublin show for the first time that eotaxin, a chemical that helps immune cells locate the site of infection, blocks basic "fighter" cells from transforming into "seeker" dendritic cells, resulting in a heightened allergic response.

"Our study reveals a new role for the chemokine eotaxin in controlling immune cell types at the site of allergic reaction," said Nigel Stevenson, a researcher involved in the study. "These findings are crucial for our understanding of allergic responses and may be instrumental for the design of new allergy drugs."

Stevenson and colleagues made this discovery by using immune cells grown in the lab and from healthy volunteers. Then the researchers mimicked what occurs during an allergic reaction by treating the cells with eotaxin, which was previously believed to only attract immune cells during an allergic reaction. Through a series of laboratory procedures, they tracked changes in immune cell type and found that eotaxin inhibits monocytes becoming dendritic cells (that find foreign invaders so other immune cells can neutralize them), resulting in more "fighter" cells being present during an allergic response. This discovery shows how and why eotaxin plays an important role in the severity of allergic reactions and may be a target for an entirely new class of allergy medications.

"For some people, allergies are very serious often debilitating problem, forcing them to be extremely careful about what they breathe, touch, or eat," said E. John Wherry, Deputy Editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology. "The insights from this work on the unexpected role of eotaxin should provide novel therapeutic opportunities for intervention during diseases like asthma, food allergies and other situations where unchecked allergic responses cause problems."

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Allergies, more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year. Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S., costing more than $18 billion. The most severe type of allergic reaction is called "anaphylaxis," which can be fatal.

Journal website: www.jleukbio.org

Source: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

Explore further: Researchers look at small RNA pathways in maize tassels

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Making cashews safer for those with allergies

Aug 11, 2014

For the millions of adults and children in the U.S. who have to shun nuts to avoid an allergic reaction, help could be on the way. Scientists are now developing a method to process cashews—and potentially other nuts—that ...

The right response to every pathogen

Jun 07, 2010

In the event of an infection, the immune system releases messenger substances. These molecules can either activate immune cells to defeat invading pathogens, or inhibit them to prevent an excessive immune reaction. For this, ...

Recommended for you

Researchers look at small RNA pathways in maize tassels

21 minutes ago

Researchers at the University of Delaware and other institutions across the country have been awarded a four-year, $6.5 million National Science Foundation grant to analyze developmental events in maize anthers ...

How plant cell compartments change with cell growth

31 minutes ago

A research team led by Kiminori Toyooka from the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science has developed a sophisticated microscopy technique that for the first time captures the detailed movement of ...

Plants can 'switch off' virus DNA

41 minutes ago

A team of virologists and plant geneticists at Wageningen UR has demonstrated that when tomato plants contain Ty-1 resistance to the important Tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV), parts of the virus DNA ...

A better understanding of cell to cell communication

1 hour ago

Researchers of the ISREC Institute at the School of Life Sciences, EPFL, have deciphered the mechanism whereby some microRNAs are retained in the cell while others are secreted and delivered to neighboring ...

Speckled beetle key to saving crops in Ethiopia

1 hour ago

(Phys.org) —An invasive weed poses a serious and frightening threat to farming families in Ethiopia, but scientists from a Virginia Tech-led program have unleashed a new weapon in the fight against hunger: ...

User comments : 0