Lifestyle

ANU researchers’ ‘incredible discovery’ could hold key for asthma, allergy sufferers

An “incredible discovery” by Australian researchers could result in a new medicinal treatment for allergic conditions including asthma, eczema and anaphylaxis.

The researchers from Australian National University (ANU) have uncovered how a naturally-occurring protein prevents autoimmune disease and allergies.

The protein, neuritin, can now be viewed as an “attractive therapeutic target”, according to the study published in the peer-reviewed Cell journal on Thursday.

The existence of the protein has long been known by researchers.

But the ANU scientists have now determined that neuritin “can act directly” to suppress excessive Immunoglobulin E production and “autoantibody development against tissue-specific antigens”.

‘Key repressor’

Immunoglobulin E is an antibody produced when the immune system overreacts to allergens like pollen, dust or peanut butter.

When too much of it is produced, it leads to the release of histamine that causes allergic reactions.

The study also found neuritin is a “key repressor of antibodies against multiple self-antigens.”

“It is an incredible discovery,” study co-author Paula Gonzalez-Figueroa said.

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