Uncovering Asthma and Allergy Triggers

Histamine releasing factor binds with IgE molecule to trigger allergic reactions

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

(RxWiki News) For asthma and allergies most of the news is about new ways to manage rather than treat it. Scientists have made the first steps in understanding how asthma and allergies work which can lead to some new treatment options.

Researchers have discovered a histamine releasing factor (HRF) molecule and an important receptor that HRF uses to bind to a molecule known to cause allergic reactions. HRF can trigger allergic responses but also can be blocked, according to scientists. This can help create new therapeutic approaches to treating asthma and allergies.

"Ask your allergist about new medications that could help treat your allergic reactions."

Asthma has been on the rise in America, with 20 million people suffering from it including nine million children. Allergies are a problem worldwide, with up to 20 percent of the population suffering from some time of allergies in industrialized countries.

Toshiaki Kawakami, M.D., Ph.D., of the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology, led the research uncovering HRF and its receptor. HRF binds with the IgE molecule, antibodies (type of protein), which has been known to be at the center of allergic reactions.

Much like an irritant can trigger an allergic attack, the same principle applies on a molecular level. HRF interacts with IgE triggering the allergic reaction that a person experiences.

Dr. Kawakami and his team also found two peptides, small portions of protein, that prevent HRF from bonding to IgE. Dr. Kawakami believes this can lead to new therapies for allergies and asthma.

It took researchers 15 years for researchers to discover the receptor that HRF uses to bind to IgE. The IgE molecule was discovered close to 50 years ago as a source for allergic reactions.

Possible treatments can be beneficial for people whose asthma or allergies are triggered by HRF binding to IgE. Understanding just how HRF affects asthma and allergic reactions work on a molecular level can lead to new therapies according to Juan Rivera, M.Sc., Ph.D., deputy scientific director at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

While understanding how HRF affects allergies and asthma is encouraging, it is merely the first step in the scientific process. More research is needed to better understand the interaction between HRF and IgE and what type of allergies or asthma are susceptible to this interaction. Researchers need to learn more about the two peptides that prevent HRF from interacting with IgE.

The asthma and allergy puzzle is slowly getting solved. Clinical research is still needed but this discovery is an encouraging step forward. New medicine and treatments could be developed based on this discovery which could be more effective than what is presently available.

This study was published in the December edition of Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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Review Date: 
December 5, 2011
Last Updated:
December 5, 2011