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Nitric oxide linked to hayfever

3rd April 2007

Scientists believe their studies into plant reproduction may have accidentally revealed the cause of hayfever.

Researchers at the University of the West of England were analysing plant reproduction processes when they noticed that pollen grains, the male parts of the plant, were producing nitric oxide to send a signal to the female parts ? the stigma.

Investigating this by-product, they conducted a fresh study which they claim has established a link between nitric oxide and hayfever.

Their results showed that those pollens which produced more nitric oxide were more likely to provoke an allergic response in humans.

“We realised that this might have implications for the allergic response many people have to pollen,” explained Dr John Hancock, who worked on the study.

Human cell inflammation and irritation during hayfever affects up to one-fifth of people in most economically developed countries, according to the study.

“These findings are very exciting and I believe they could have implications for how we treat hayfever in the future,” Dr Hancock added.

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