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Researchers uncover allergy-cancer connection
Date:3/19/2014

While many are stocking up on allergy medicine in preparation for spring, a new study from researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center has uncovered a new connection between allergy and cancer that could potentially lead to therapies involving common antihistamines.

Recently published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, the study was led by Daniel H. Conrad, Ph.D., member of the Cancer Cell Signaling research program at Massey and professor of microbiology and immunology at the VCU School of Medicine, with substantial contributions from Ph.D. students and co-first authors Rebecca K. Martin and Sheinei J. Saleem. The study demonstrated that histamine, a component of the immune system that responds to allergens and foreign pathogens and is also linked to inflammation, plays a role in protecting tumors from the immune system. By blocking the production of histamine in animal models, the researchers were able to interrupt a process that promotes melanoma growth.

"This research is very exciting as it draws a connection between two diseases that aren't commonly linked: allergy and cancer," says Conrad. "However, it's important to realize that this connection is very novel and further research is needed before we know if antihistamines can be used effectively in cancer therapies."

Histamine is produced by mast cells, which are especially numerous in the nose, mouth and blood vessels to help defend against pathogens and aid in wound healing. The researchers found that histamine induces the activation, survival and proliferation of myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSCs), which help promote tumor growth by suppressing the immune system. They also discovered that MDSCs tend to migrate toward mast cells, which help traffic the MDSCs to sites of inflammation such as the liver and tumors. The cycle continues as histamine released by mast cells further promotes the survival and proliferation of MDSCs. This occurs
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Contact: Alaina Schneider
afschneider@vcu.edu
804-628-4578
Virginia Commonwealth University
Source:Eurekalert  

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