Dance of the Asthma Fairies Discovered

Asthma attacks viewed by UK scientists

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Scientists have now seen causes of asthma attacks in the shape of immunoglobulin E( IgE) and how it moves and twists during IgE's attachment to the receptor proteins on the surface of mast cells. After 15 years of research, what a beautiful sight this must be.

Scientists in the UK are calling this culmination of their research groundbreaking. This observation allows scientists to use the shape and movement of IgE to develop drugs designed to block this scientific duet.

"Development of new therapies for asthma are underway in the UK."

There are many different sources causing allergic reactions including grass pollen, pets, and house dust mites. These all have different shapes and they all of trigger asthma and allergy symptoms by binding to IgE on mast cells.

A drug that can prevent IgE from interacting with mast cells would help anyone with allergic asthma, no matter what triggers their allergy.

With further funding from Asthma UK, the team is now testing a library of small chemical compounds, looking for ones that have the potential to block the interaction between IgE and its receptor and prevent the development of asthma.

The Study

  • Scientists built up a picture of IgE’s shape down to the location of each individual atom by firing X-rays at purified protein crystals and measuring how the rays were deflected
  • Using the same technique they  also saw how IgE moves and twists as it attaches to the receptor
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 27, 2011
Last Updated:
May 3, 2011