Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Assessing Allergens
26 November 2016

Assessing Allergens

Itchy watery eyes, a tickly throat, sniffles and sneezes are the miserable symptoms of an allergy, be it caused by pollen, leaf mould, pet dander, dust mites or something else. But what makes certain environmental proteins allergenic and others innocuous? This has been a longstanding question for allergy researchers, and now, for dust mites at least, they have an answer. Of the thousands of proteins that constitute the common household dust mite (pictured), only about two dozen induce allergic reactions. Comparing the qualities of 19 of these known allergens with 659 of the non-allergenic proteins, scientists found that allergenic ones tended to be both produced in larger amounts and more resistant to degradation. Having determined these general properties, scientists are now in a better position to identify and test other potentially allergenic proteins, including those that may be used in future medicines or consumer products.

Written by Ruth Williams

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