Lack of a protein called SPINK7 underlies the food allergy disease eosinophilic oesophagitis
Eating a delicious meal is one of life’s great joys, but for some each mouthful is a struggle and a risk. Eosinophilic oesophagitis is a chronic food allergy in which immune cells called eosinophils amass in the oesophagus (the tube between mouth and stomach) and spark an allergic reaction. Research has shown that patients lack SPINK7, a protein that inhibits the premature breakdown of food material that might damage the oesophagus lining. Without this, the unprotected lining becomes degraded and eosinophils swarm to the site, causing inflammation. A new study has shown that treating mice with a replacement inhibitor (cells bound by the inhibitor in green in the mouse oesophagus pictured) reduced symptoms. The study confirms the mechanism behind the disease, which has only recently been recognised and disproportionately affects children, and points the way for future treatments.
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