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Nottingham scientists identify trigger in cat allergy
Date:3/9/2011

A breakthrough by scientists at The University of Nottingham could provide hope for any allergy sufferers who have ever had to choose between their health and their household pet.

The team of immunologists led by Drs Ghaem-Maghami and Martinez-Pomares in the University's School of Molecular Medical Sciences, and funded by the charity Asthma UK, have identified a cell component which plays a key role in triggering allergic responses to cat dander.

The discovery furthers our understanding of how the body's immune system identifies and reacts to allergens, which could pave the way in developing new ways of treating allergies.

The development is especially good news for the millions of people with asthma whose condition is often worsened by their allergy to airborne allergens from cat dander or house dust mite. Cat dander consists of microscopic pieces of cat skin which easily become airborne.

Dr Amir Ghaem-Maghami said: "There has been a sharp increase in the prevalence of allergies over the past few decades and allergic asthma among children has reached epidemic proportions in many industrialised countries, including the UK.

"Despite improvements in patient care, three people die every day in the UK from asthma, and most therapies target symptoms rather than curing the condition.

"Many people with asthma are highly sensitive to airborne allergens such as cat dander or house dust mite in fact many studies have shown that up to 40 per cent of children with asthma are allergic to cat allergens.

"A better understanding of how the interaction between allergens and the immune system leads to allergy is vital if we are to develop more effective and efficient treatments for this debilitating condition."

Dr Elaine Vickers, Research Relations Manager at Asthma UK, says: "We are delighted to see the rapid progress that Dr Ghaem-Maghami and his colleagues are making in such a complex area of research.


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Contact: Emma Thorne
emma.thorne@nottingham.ac.uk
44-011-595-15793
University of Nottingham
Source:Eurekalert

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