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Allergic to dust mites? New study could help

Scientists at the University of Nottingham have identified a molecule in the body that reacts to dust mites. Their work may help create treatments for the thousands of people who suffer from dust mite allergies.

The prevalence of dust mite allergies

“There has been a sharp increase in the prevalence of allergies over the past few decades and allergic asthma among children has reached epidemic proportions in many industrialized countries,” Dr Amir Ghaem-Maghami said.

“Despite improvements in patient care, mortality and morbidity of allergic asthma has remained high, and most therapies target symptoms rather than curing the condition.”

Many people with asthma are highly sensitive to airborne allergens such as those from house dust mite — in fact, many studies have shown that up to 80 per cent of people with asthma are allergic to house dust mite.

Suffering with allergies

For Megan Whittler allergies are part of her life, no different than the birthmark on her arm, Whittler believes allergies are a permanent part of body.

“I am allergic to everything,” she said with a sense of humor. “I was just born this way, I guess.”

The 18 year old student says she tries not to let allergies stop her from hanging out with friends or getting her homework done, but it’s not as easy as willing her allergies away.

“Dust mites, pollen, rag weed – I’m allergic to just about everything.”

The recent research may eventually help allergy sufferers like Whittler.

How this finding could affect the future

Scientists believe if they can understand why and how people react to allergens like dust mites, they can begin to reverse the effects and treat allergies. While some medications and other treatments exist, there is no cure for allergies.

“A better understanding of how the interaction between allergens and the immune system triggers allergy is vital if we are to develop more effective and efficient treatments for this debilitating condition,” Dr Amir Ghaem-Maghami said.

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