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Boost for allergy sufferers

28th December 2007

A new therapy to treat sufferers of hayfever could be on the way after scientists discovered a new mechanism that can cause such allergic reactions.

Researchers from the UK and Switzerland, along with other international institutions, have suggested developing therapies to stop a gene known as FOXP3 becoming blocked can help some allergy sufferers.

Another gene, known as GATA-3, stops the production and development of certain T-cells within the body’s immune system, which can lead to allergies.

The allergic reaction, scientists say, is caused by the body incorrectly identifying foreign substances such as pollen as dangerous.

However Dr Carsten Schmidt-Weber, the principal investigator on the research from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College, London, said the latest tests conducted alongside the Swiss Institute of Allergy and Asthma Research in Davos suggest if the actions of the GATA-3 gene can be switched off then it can lead to a breakthrough in preventative allergy medicine.

“This finding will help us to understand how healthy individuals are able to tolerate allergens and what we need to do to re-induce tolerance in the immune systems of patients with allergies,” Dr Schmidt-Weber said.

“We hope that we will soon be able to help not only patients suffering from single allergies, but also those with multiple ones – the atopic patients.”

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