Scientists are one step closer to finding a cure for asthma and allergic reactions after the structure of a key molecule in these two conditions is revealed.
The team from Oxford University and King College London have discovered the structure of a receptor, called CD23, which regulates the production of IgE – an antibody involved in both conditions.
IgE is thought to make the mast cells of the immune system more sensitive to allergens, thus lowering circulating levels of active IgE is a possible way of reducing the symptoms of allergies or allergic asthma.
Dr James McDonnell from Oxford University, who led the study, told Laboratory News: “The vast majority of allergic reactions result from IgE, so targeting CD23 to reduce IgE as a generic treatment for allergies is a good strategy.”
The researchers used nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to discover the structure of CD23. They also identified which parts of the molecule are used in the promotion of IgE – and therefore which regions inhibitors could bind to stop this process.
Dr James McDonnell from Oxford University, who led the study, said: “This is an important step forward in understanding some of the underlying mechanisms of the allergic response. Our next challenge is to develop the therapeutic potential of this information.”
Dr Lyn Smurthwaite of Asthma UK, who funded part of the work, said: “We welcomed the opportunity to be involved with this study and look forward to further advances that may be used to prevent the initiation of the allergic asthmatic response.”
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