An international team of researchers has identified a novel target that may lead to the development of new class of allergy drugs.
The researchers have come across a chemical called eotaxin that helps immune cells locate the site of infection and blocks basic "fighter" cells from transforming into "seeker" dendritic cells, resulting in a heightened allergic response.
"Our study reveals a new role for the chemokine eotaxin in controlling immune cell types at the site of allergic reaction," said researcher Nigel Stevenson.
"These findings are crucial for our understanding of allergic responses and may be instrumental for the design of new allergy drugs," he added.
During the study, the researchers used the immune cells grown in the lab and from healthy volunteers.
They mimicked what occurs during an allergic reaction by treating the cells with eotaxin, which was previously believed to only attract immune cells during an allergic reaction.
The researchers then tracked changes in immune cell type and found that eotaxin inhibits monocytes becoming dendritic cells (that find foreign invaders so other immune cells can neutralize them), resulting in more "fighter" cells being present during an allergic response.
"For some people, allergies are very serious often debilitating problem, forcing them to be extremely careful about what they breathe, touch, or eat," said E. John Wherry, Deputy Editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology in which the study is published.
"The insights from this work on the unexpected role of eotaxin should provide novel therapeutic opportunities for intervention during diseases like asthma, food allergies and other situations where unchecked allergic responses cause problems," he added.