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Peanut allergy breakthrough

20th July 2009

Scientists believe they have made a breakthrough which may reduce the risk of children suffering serious allergic reactions to certain food.

A team of Glasgow University researchers have identified a molecule which amplifies allergic reactions. They have also developed a biological agent which they believe will reduce the symptoms.

It is hoped the discovery could lead to a huge reduction in the number of fatal anaphylactic shock cases.

Common causes of  anaphylaxis include foods such as peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish, shellfish, dairy products and eggs. Anaphylaxis can cause cardiac arrest and sometimes death.

Led by Dr Alirio Melendez and Prof Eddy Liew, the team found that IL-33 plays a key role in the development of anaphylaxis.

Dr Melendez said: "We looked at a number of patients who had experienced anaphylaxis during surgery and found that they had very high levels of the molecule IL-33.

"IL-33 is a relatively new discovery and its part in anaphylaxis, or any pathology, has not been greatly understood.

"Our study showed that IL-33 plays a pivotal role in hugely increasing the inflammation experienced during a period of anaphylactic shock and led us to understand how to intervene to reduce its impact."

 

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