A recent research project conducted by Belgian researchers has finally discovered the scientific explanation for the allergy-life of farm kinds.
It is a widely known fact that children who grow up on farms, and who are close to animals and natures are far less prone to develop allergies and asthma throughout their lives.
However, this association was never met with an explanation until recently when a team of researchers from the Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie and the Ghent University in Belgium has finally discovered why this happens.
They closely observed every step of the process of the interaction between the allergen and the organism and they realized that the first major tissue that the allergen comes into contact with is the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract, and especially that of the lungs.
And so, the exposed laboratory mice to farm dust extract and looked to see the effects. It seems that the mice that were exposed to the farm dust were did in fact develop into allergy free adults in their majority, and the researchers finally revealed why this happens. It seems that the mice produced a special protein, called A20, that provided the protection against allergies.
“This effect is created by the A20 protein, which the body produces upon contact with farm dust. When we inactivate the A20 protein in the mucous membrane of the lungs, farm dust is no longer able to reduce an allergic or asthmatic reaction” explained Professor Hamida Hammad, co-author of the study.
Then, in order to further test their theory, they conducted a second phase of their research project that focused on children who lived on farms. They tested as many as 2,000 children in their study, and included both children who had developed allergies throughout their lives and those who had not.
And the difference between these two types of children seemed to be none other than the A20 protein. It seems that those who had in fact developed allergies, in spite of their prolonged exposure to farm dust, suffered from a mutation that prevented the A20 protein to serve its purpose.
This proved that the protein was the correct link between farm life and an allergy-free life, thus creating a wide range of possibilities for the development of a vaccine for asthma.
The researchers pointed out that their data suggests that a vaccine delivered by aerosols might prove to be more efficient against allergies than one that is delivered by injection.
It remains to be seen what the practical application of this study will be in the field of allergology, but one thing that is extremely clear is that we are one step closer towards putting an end to allergies and asthma.
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