Molecule That Offers Hope For Future Allergy Treatments Discovered

A new molecule that could help treat allergic people has recently been discovered. Researchers at the University of Nottingham have found that DC-SIGN, a receptor found on the surface of antigen presenting cells, may improve body’s allergic response to house dust mite.

This seems a promising discovery not only because it may be the keystone of a new allergy therapy, but also because it helps understand how the body reacts to environmental allergens.

An allergy is an exaggerated reaction caused by the immune system in response to contact with certain foreign substances, called allergens. Usually, these substances are harmless, but to some people they can give rise to an allergic reaction. In response to allergens, the body produces specific antibodies, called IgE, which triggers an inflammatory response. IgE is an antibody that all of us have in small amounts. Allergic persons, however, produces IgE in large quantities. Symptoms, such as wheezing, runny nose, itching eyes, are common among people who are prone to allergies.

What researchers from The University of Nottingham discovered was that DC-SIGN binds to the major allergen from the dust house mite, called Der p 1. The connection between the receptor,DC-SIGN ,and allergen triggers a mechanism that could desensitize immune responses to allergens.

DC-SIGN is a molecule which functions as a receptor on the surface of the immune cells and recognizes allergens from house dust mite. House dust mite are microscopic organisms which excreted proteins and, if inhaled, these proteins may attack the respiratory passages causing asthma.

Dr.Amir Ghaem-Maghami, Professor Farouk Shakib in the University’s School of Molecular Medical Sciences, underlined that there has been an increase in the prevalence of allergies over the past few decades, especially in the industrialised countries. He also pointed that although the medical care improved significantly lately, the mortality and morbidity of allergic asthma remain high. The discovery of DC-SIGN is even more important as up to 80 per cent of people suffering from asthma are allergic to house dust mite.

This finding, published this week in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, could provide useful information in developing more effective and efficient treatment option that could help asthma patients from around the world.


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