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Cellular force that drives allergy and asthma can be blocked by interferon
Date:6/16/2014

DALLAS June 16, 2014 A mechanism that could underlie the development of cells that drive asthma and allergies has been uncovered by immunology researchers at UTSouthwestern Medical Center.

Asthma and allergies are both driven by an inappropriate activation of the immune system, primarily a subtype of white blood cells known as T helper 2 cells, or Th2 cells. These cells are normally responsible for defense against parasites, but are also the main culprits behind the symptoms of asthma and allergies.

Dr. David Farrar, Associate Professor of Immunology and Molecular Biology at UTSouthwestern, and his team found that the antiviral molecules known as type I interferons (IFNs) block the development of these allergy- and asthma-driving Th2 cells.

"The fact that interferon could stop the activation of these harmful cells was of particular interest because interferons are already approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of other diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and hepatitis," said Dr. Farrar, who holds the J. Wayne Streilein, M.D. Professorship in Immunology.

The work, published in the Journal of Immunology, could eventually give rise to new therapies.

To demonstrate the prevalence of asthma, in the United States about 13 percent of adults nearly 30 million people have received a diagnosis of asthma. This frequency compares to 11 percent who have been diagnosed with heart disease and 8 percent who have had any form of cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Asthma is reported more often among women than men, among Caucasians, and in families with limited economic resources. Allergi
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Contact: Russell Rian
russell.rian@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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Cellular force that drives allergy and asthma can be blocked by interferon
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