Health, Zoomer Report

Genes and Allergies

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It’s allergy season and if you’re coughing, sneezing and wheezing, here’s a new explanation.

There is evidence to suggest that at least one major genetic mutation could be responsible for everything from hay fever and asthma to food allergies.

Researchers studying two rare tissue disorders, Marfan Syndrome, and Loeys-Dietz Syndrome have discovered that there may be a common genetic driver behind almost all allergic diseases. The scientists from Johns Hopkins Children’s Center were surprised that the same mutation they found in patients with those conditions may also trigger the immune changes responsible for allergies; most of the patients with the two rare disorders also had higher than normal rates of allergies.

They say the problem is abnormal signaling by a protein that’s responsible for regulating cell growth and communication. It’s called TGF beta and in the Marfan and Loeys-Dietz patients, it causes dangerous thinning of the blood vessels.

In people with seasonal or food allergies, the improper functioning of this protein instead triggers the release of histamines that cause mucous and liquid production which leads to swelling and itching of the eyes and nose; or shortness of breath and other allergic reactions.

Researchers believe this cycle could explain how most allergies are triggered, and could be a useful target for new allergy treatments.

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