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: Campaigners say protected birds in danger in Malta

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

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

Genome yields insights into golden eagle vision, smell

2 hours ago

Purdue and West Virginia University researchers are the first to sequence the genome of the golden eagle, providing a bird's-eye view of eagle features that could lead to more effective conservation strategies.

Genetic code of the deadly tsetse fly unraveled

3 hours ago

Mining the genome of the disease-transmitting tsetse fly, researchers have revealed the genetic adaptions that allow it to have such unique biology and transmit disease to both humans and animals.

Ocean microbes display remarkable genetic diversity

3 hours ago

The smallest, most abundant marine microbe, Prochlorococcus, is a photosynthetic bacteria species essential to the marine ecosystem. An estimated billion billion billion of the single-cell creatures live i ...

Engineered E. coli produces high levels of D-ribose

4 hours ago

D-ribose is a commercially important sugar used as a sweetener, a nutritional supplement, and as a starting compound for synthesizing riboflavin and several antiviral drugs. Genetic engineering of Escherichia co ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Genetic code of the deadly tsetse fly unraveled

Mining the genome of the disease-transmitting tsetse fly, researchers have revealed the genetic adaptions that allow it to have such unique biology and transmit disease to both humans and animals.

Ocean microbes display remarkable genetic diversity

The smallest, most abundant marine microbe, Prochlorococcus, is a photosynthetic bacteria species essential to the marine ecosystem. An estimated billion billion billion of the single-cell creatures live i ...

Cell resiliency surprises scientists

New research shows that cells are more resilient in taking care of their DNA than scientists originally thought. Even when missing critical components, cells can adapt and make copies of their DNA in an alternative ...

One in 13 US schoolkids takes psych meds

(HealthDay)—More than 7 percent of American schoolchildren are taking at least one medication for emotional or behavioral difficulties, a new government report shows.

FDA reconsiders behavior-modifying 'shock devices'

(HealthDay)—They're likened to a dog's "shock collar" by some and called a "life-saving treatment" by others. But the days of electro-shock devices as a tool for managing hard-to-control behavior in people ...

Computer program could help solve arson cases

Sifting through the chemical clues left behind by arson is delicate, time-consuming work, but University of Alberta researchers teaming with RCMP scientists in Canada, have found a way to speed the process.