Scientists at The University of Nottingham have discovered a new molecule that could offer the hope of new treatments for people allergic to the house dust mite. The team of immunologists led by Dr Amir Ghaem-Maghami and Professor Farouk Shakib in the University's School of Molecular Medical Sciences have identified the molecule DC-SIGN which appears to play a role in damping down the body's allergic response to the house dust mite. The molecule can be found on the surface of the immune cells which play a key role in the recognition of a major allergen from house dust mites called Der p 1, a leading cause of asthma in northern Europe. The recognition of the allergen by the immune system is thought to lead to on-going sensitisation and the development of allergic symptoms. Click here for full story The discovery furthers our understanding of how the body's immune system identifies and reacts to allergens, which could ultimately pave the way for developing new therapies or treatments for preventing allergies.
Immunological diseases, such as eczema and asthma, are on the increase in westernised society and represent a major challenge for 21st century medicine. A new study has shown, for the first time, that growing up on a farm directly affects the regulation of the immune system and causes a reduction in the immunological responses to food proteins. The research, led by the University of Bristol's School of Veterinary Sciences, found that spending early life in a complex farm environment increased the number of regulatory T-lymphocytes, the cells that damp down the immune system and limit immune responses. Dr Marie Lewis, Research Associate in Infection and Immunity at the School of Veterinary Sciences, who led the research, said: "Many large-scale epidemiological studies have suggested that growing up on a farm is linked to a reduced likelihood of developing allergic disease.
Increased exposure to sunlight may reduce the risk of both food allergies and eczema in children, according to a new scientific study. Researchers from the European Centre for Environment & Human Health, along with several Australian institutions, have found that children living in areas with lower levels of sunlight are at greater risk of developing food allergies and the skin condition eczema, compared to those in areas with higher UV. The research team used data from a study of Australian children and analysed how rates of food allergy, eczema and asthma varied throughout the country. As well as finding a link between latitude and allergies to peanut and egg, the results showed that on average children in the south of the country are twice as likely to develop eczema as those in the north.
Could some cases of asthma actually be caused by an allergic reaction to a common environmental bacteria? New research findings published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology suggests that this idea may not be as far-fetched as it seems. In a research report appearing in the February 2012 print issue, researchers show a link between common environmental bacteria and airway inflammation. Specifically, their research suggests that some strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa cause white blood cells to produce very high levels of histamine, which in turn leads to inflammation, a hallmark symptom of asthma. "We hope that these findings in mice will encourage human-focused research regarding bacterial stimulation of histamine production by white blood cells, like neutrophils, that are not traditionally associated with allergic inflammation, " said George Caughey, M.
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine researchers have identified a new and unusual role for a key player in the human immune system. A protein initially believed to regulate one routine function within the cell has proven vital for another critical step in the activation of the immune system. That protein, STIM1, was previously known to sense a change in calcium within immune cells, a process that occurs when the body confronts a pathogen. Upon sensing this change, STIM1 opens a type of pore in the cell membrane, called a CRAC channel, to allow the flow of calcium ions - a vital step in activating the immune system. The Feinberg team, led by Murali Prakriya, assistant professor of molecular pharmacology and biological chemistry, discovered that STIM1 not only opens these pores but is responsible for determining the exquisite selectivity for calcium ions within the CRAC channels, a critical factor in kick starting the body's immune system.