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Chilean President's Cousin Successfully Tests Allergy 'Knockout' Technique on Mice

A doctoral student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem School of Pharmacy, who is the first cousin of Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, has been conferred a prestigious research prize for developing a new approach that may help eliminate allergies like the common cold and asthma.

Chilean-born Ido Bachelet has been honoured with the Barenholz Prize, which is named for the donor of the prize money and noted researcher Prof. Yehezkel Barenholz of the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, in recognition of his contribution in the development of the "knockout technique" in special "antibody nose drops" against allergies that has been tested successfully on lab mice.

Bachelet shared the award with another researcher during the Hebrew University Borad of Governors 70th meeting in Jerusalem recently. The award is given for "creativity and originality in applied research".

The Ph.D student, who is working under the supervision of Prof. Francesca Levi-Schaffer, focused his research on mechanisms that regulate the function of mast cells, the "villains" in triggering allergic reactions.

Acute symptoms like stuffy nose, rash and airway constriction, and lethal shock known from food or venom allergies occur when, as a result of exposure to allergens, mast cells react violently and release an enormous array of pro-inflammatory substances, of which histamine is a well-known example. They later on attract inflammatory cells that will maintain the response, which often persists as a chronic disease.

Bachelet's study has led to the identification of a receptor protein on mast cells, termed CD300a, which has a prominent negative effect on mast cell activity, virtually shutting down the cell from unleashing allergic responses.

The identified protein receptor is widely found throughout the immune system and, just like steroids, targeting it could result in undesired, overall immune suppressi
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