A Cure For Asthma, Eczema, and Food Allergies Could Be on the Horizon!

A Cure For Asthma, Eczema, and Food Allergies Could Be on the Horizon!

Researchers identified a molecular switch that turns on the allergic response in human, which cause such diseases as asthma, eczema, and food allergies.

A recent study by scientist at the University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, identified the molecular agent responsible for directing immune cells to develop the capability to produce allergic response. The molecular agent, called thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), is the culprit behind the development of allergic diseases such as asthma, atopic dermatitis (eczema), and food allergy in human, said the researchers; but how might this occur?

Well, according to the researchers, dendritic cells, which are immune cells that initiate the primary immune response, play a very important role in the allergic response mechanism. When dendritic cells come into contact with other immune cells known as T cells, they cause T cells to develop into different categories, such as helper 1 (Th1) and helper 2 (Th2) cells, the researchers said. These categories of T-cells are responsible for initiating protective immune responses, but the Th2 cell can also initiate an allergic response on its own according to the study. It was never known before how dendritic cells communicated with regular T cells for them to become Th2 cells according to the researchers.

The blood of healthy donors was used by the investigators to isolate dendritic cells, (University of Texas). It was discovered by the scientists that the binding of TSLP to these cells activate a distinct set of signaling pathways within the cells. A direct result of this pathway is the production of messenger molecules by the dendritic cells that act on T cells, causing T cells to develop into Th2 cells, (University of Texas).

Therefore, the study identifies TSLP as a molecular switch that initiates the development of allergic responses in people, which suggest that this molecule could be a target to effectively treat or prevent allergic diseases, like those mentioned above in the future.

Medicines could possibly be developed to block the actions of TSLP. Not only that, understanding the functions of such a molecule could one day set the stage for the development of a medicinal agents that could possibly reverse the allergic response in people.

There are millions of people worldwide who suffer from diseases associated with the body’s allergic response, (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA)). Asthma is one of those diseases. It is the most common of all the chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, (Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine: January 2008 – Volume 14 – Issue 1 – p 3-8).

Asthma is characterized by chronic inflammation of the lungs causing the airways or bronchi to become narrowed, (AAFA). This interns causes difficulty breathing, (AAFA). Current asthma medications target the inflammation and airway-narrowing problems of the lung. This is however, a temporary fix for a chronic problem. Medications or vaccines developed to target the TSLP molecule on the other hand could be a tremendous step forward in the cure or effective treatment of asthma.

Eczema is an inflammatory process occurring superficially, (Dorland’s Medical Dictionary (DMD)). It involves primarily the epidermis, (DMD). Eczema is characterized by redness, itching, minute papules and vesicles, weeping, oozing, and crusting, and later by scaling, and often pigmentation, (DMD). This characterization of symptoms is a common allergic reaction in children, and in adults, (DMD). In fact, it may occur in adults more severely than in children, (DMD). Eczema in children often begins in infancy, with rash appearing on the face, neck, elbows, and knees, (DMD). In some patients, it may disappear by itself when the food that is triggering the allergic reaction is removed from the diet, or it may become more extensive-covering the entire body, (DMD). In severe cases, skin infection can develop, (DMD).

A food allergy is characterized by an overreaction of the immune system to a protein substance or allergen that is eaten, breathed in, injected, or touched, (AAFA). Such immune overreaction can results in coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, or scratchy throat, (AAFA). In more severe cases it can result in rashes, hives, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, asthma attacks, and even death, (AAFA).

There is currently no cure for allergies, (AAFA); but with the isolation of the molecular agent TSLP that is responsible for causing allergies, a cure is possible. At the present time, allergies can only be managed with proper prevention and treatment, (AAFA).

Allergies are present in individuals who are genetically predisposed to develop the allergy, (AAFA). For example, if one parent has an allergy of any type, there is a 1 out of 3 chance that a child will have the allergy, (AAFA). While on the other hand, if both parents have the allergy, there is a 7 out of 10 chance that their offspring will have the allergy, (AAFA). There is an increase in Americans suffering from allergies, (AAFA). In fact, it is the most overlooked disease in America, (AAFA). It is not even perceived as a disease by some!

Here we can see that all the complications mentioned are allergy-related. Asthma is an allergy just the same as eczema. This is why the breakthrough in the TSLP study is welcomed news for many people suffering from allergy-related diseases.